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Bus drivers learn what to do during hijacking, shooting

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POSTED October 14, 2013 11:52 p.m.

Forty Manteca Unified School District bus drivers will take a day off from their fall break vacation to learn what they need to do in the event of a hijacking or shooting incident while on the job.

On Thursday, Oct 17, the drivers will be in Dublin in Alameda County to attend a day-long training session with the Sheriff’s Department. It will involve two hours of classroom time which will include lectures on the history of hijacking, what to expect when the SWAT team arrives, and “things that we can do to help,” said Julie Hale, a trainer with the Manteca Unified transportation department who made the arrangements for the training session.

In the afternoon, there will be a four-hour hands-on training revolving around a make-believe hijacking and shooting scenario.

“We’re going to practice stopping the bus and shutting the bus from outside. This is going to be very, very interactive,” Hale said.

All of the bus drivers attending the training are being asked to wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, tennis shoes, and gloves just as a precautionary measure to protect the trainees’ skin if they are to “possibly get hit by paint ball” during the field exercises, Hale said.

“But it’s very likely no one will get hit; this is a very realistic training,” she added.

The training has been approved by the school district as well as the Alameda Sheriff’s Department.

Hale said this is the first time the Manteca Unified school bus drivers are receiving this type of security training. She added that as far as she knows, Merced Unified is the only place that has had this type of training which is being done “for security reasons” following the September 11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

“Transit buses are one of the highest targets now (for such attacks) because they run the same schedule everyday and there’s not a lot of security,” Hale explained.

In much the same way, school buses are exposed to the same dangers. “Everybody just kind of trusts us, so it kind of makes us easy targets,” she said.

At a recent informational presentation by the California Department in Sacramento that she attended, it was “pointed out that school buses are high targets for hijacking situations. Kind of scary,” Hale said.

“We want to be prepared when something happens,” she said, explaining the importance of this training session they are attending next week.

“I want us to be more proactive, trying to do everything we can to prepare for (any potential incident,” she added.

“We don’t just drive buses,” said longtime Manteca Unified school bus driver Leann Miculinich, reminding everyone that their job also involves taking care of the young ones that are in their charge, among other things.

Hale said school bus drivers are also “kind of the eyes and ears” for police.

“We drive the same route every day, so we notice when something is not right,” which they then report to the police, she said.

The training is being provided to the Manteca school bus drivers by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department free of charge.

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