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How kids can survive and escape a school bus crash

TAMPA, FL. (WFLA) – A school bus crash is a nightmare scenario. Tampa Fire Rescue simulated a crash to train first responders and show kids what to do to survive and escape.

Susan Tamme, Division Chief of Training for Tampa Fire Rescue, recommends buckling up. Some buses don’t have seatbelts. In that case, she urges kids to stay seated.

“The most important thing children can do is sit and don’t stand up and walk around,” she said.

First responders flipped a school bus onto a car. Tamme insists rescue crews will be on scene in a matter of minutes. But until then, kids should follow the bus driver’s directions. Or they can look to older kids that are remaining calm and giving out directions.

“The most important thing is to remain calm, consider the others, consider teammates, the buddy system. Be responsible for one another on your exit,” she said.

In some cases, firefighters will need to stabilize the school bus before rescuing kids. Otherwise, the bus could shift and kids could get hurt.

In the scenario simulated at Tampa Fire Rescue’s training facility, the bus was on its side, but not flush to the ground. When exiting, kids would need to avoid stepping on the glass windows because they could break and cause injury. Instead, kids should step on the metal portions, or on areas of the bus that can hold the weight of a person.

First responders also want kids to look before they exit. For example, the emergency exit on the ceiling of the bus looks like a good way out when the bus is on its side. But there’s a drop and it may cause more injury.

Some crashes can cause fuel leaks and fires. In those cases, kids should get out immediately. The same goes for school buses sinking in water.

“Remember, some kids may not be able to swim,” she said.

Once outside, look out for traffic – including emergency vehicles racing to the scene.

Kids should stick together and go somewhere safe. Mike Buttermore, Training Captain for Tampa Fire Rescue, urges kids to stay close so they can be accounted for by a school official. He also urges parents to keep their kids on scene until a school official has been notified.

“This could be a very emotional and chaotic scene and without a good count of how many people are on the bus, we don’t know if there are any students missing,” said Buttermore.

For more information, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: