2017-05-09 / Front Page

Mock crash gives students opportunity to shine

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Senior Staff Writer

SANFORD — It was a made-up emergency to put students' abilities and what they’d learned to the test.

A school bus made its way along a roadway and collided with an SUV,. The bus was full of elementary school children — except of course, they weren’t. They were adults playing the roles of school children.

There were multiple “injuries,” both in the bus and the SUV.

Fire, EMS and law enforcement were on the scene moments after the crash happened. Patients were initially examined and then sent to the health occupations wing of Sanford Regional Technical Center,  where they were triaged and treated.

The students were intent on their work, ignoring, for the most part, the world around them, keeping to task, seeing that the “patients’ got treated.

How did they all cope?

“They did alright,” said Assistant Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson.

EMS instructor Wendy Elliott said some struggled.

“That’s art of why we do this,” she said of the scenario unfolding on the green space adjacent to to the portable classrooms at Sanford High School campus. “The ones that bubble up to the top, you see a lot.”

Sanford Regional Technical Center’s fire science, emergency medical services, health occupations  and law enforcement students all played their roles amid the chaos, along with the help of Ledgemere Transportation, the Sanford School Department’s transportation provider.

There were “children” — actually adult school bus drivers and monitors portraying 6, 7, and 8 year olds, hurt and sobbing for their mothers.

There were other adults portraying parents of the children on the school bus, rushing to the scene to learn if their child was among the injured.

In the first of two scenarios on Monday, law enforcement students were first on the scene, followed by fire science and EMS students.

A “child” screamed out the window that he couldn’t get off the bus.

There was silence from the SUV.

Before law enforcement could investigate the crash, patients had to be examined, and treated.

Michael “Tipper” Thornton, the SRTC’s law enforcement instructor, has 28 students in this, the inaugural school year of the program. Scenarios like the mock crash give students a real “heads-up” taste of what it can be like at a crash scene, he said.

“This is their first exposure, to this degree,” of an as-close-to-real life scenario as possible, he said.

Sheila Beckwith-Hibbard, who manages Ledgemere’s Sanford bus operation, said the training scenarios are beneficial for drivers, as well as students.

“We try to do as much training as we can with drivers,” she said, adding trainings like the mock scenario help prepare drivers and monitors for what can happen in real life.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or twells@journaltribune.com.

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