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Simulated Batavia bus crash provides training to area agencies

Batavia Fire Department personnel care for Rotolo Middle School eighth graders participating in a bus disaster drill near the school Wednesday.
Batavia Fire Department personnel care for Rotolo Middle School eighth graders participating in a bus disaster drill near the school Wednesday.

BATAVIA – Batavia police officers and firefighters rushed toward the school bus full of Rotolo Middle School students Wednesday, ready to assist any students injured in the staged collision between a car and the bus.

Police helped each student off the bus. Firefighters then carefully lifted three students who had neck injuries onto ambulance backboards and tended to the unconscious driver.

The scene gave Batavia School District 101 and emergency agencies training in how to respond to emergencies. Those involved in the simulation included the school district, Batavia fire and police departments, the Illinois Central Bus Company, Tri-Com Central Dispatch and the Southern Fox Valley and Central DuPage Emergency Medical Services System.

“We run routine safety drills with all of our schools and students,” said Patrick McCarthy, director of customer and community relations for the Illinois Central Bus Company.

The crash was staged at the intersection of Papermill and Barkei drives, near the school.

Batavia Deputy Fire Chief Randy Banker said the fact the driver in the drill was supposed to have been unconscious added another scenario to the simulation. Like a real emergency, the training exercise involved a number of agencies.

“The driver couldn’t direct the students what to do,” Banker said. “These types of incidents are very labor intensive. It takes a lot of people.”

District 101 Superintendent Jack Barshinger said the training exercise was the first crisis simulation where multiple agencies were working with the school district.

During the scenario, firefighters grouped the students according to the severity of their injuries. The 28 students who participated are studying first aid at Rotolo Middle School.

“Learning it in a classroom is totally different from experiencing it almost real life,” said Rotolo teacher Laura Abraham, who teaches first aid and health. “I think this will be a real eye-opening opportunity in applying what they learned.”

It also was eye-opening for Abraham.

“It is interesting to see it,” she said.

Eighth-grader Becca Cox was one of the three students who suffered neck injuries in the collision.

“It was kind of strange because we weren’t actually in pain, but we were being treated like we were,” she said.

Fellow eighth-grader Katie Law, who also played an injured student, said the training exercise taught her what to do in case of an actual emergency.

“It was pretty much what I imagined,” she said.

Eighth-grader Kyle Hogan recognized some of the fire personnel who were part of the exercise. Hogan is the son of Batavia Fire Lt. Scott Hogan.

“It was pretty interesting and cool,” he said. “I could see how they do everything.”

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