Drivers praised for quick actions

A Clark-Pleasant schools bus driver was on the fourth stop in his route, dropping students off after school.

Suddenly, children started yelling at driver Mark Howe, saying that a student needed help.

When Howe got to the back of the bus, he saw a student having a seizure. Howe directed another child to start a stopwatch because he had been trained that if the student was seizing for more than five minutes, Howe would have to give medicine to stop the seizure.

After about four minutes, the seizure ended, and Howe went back to the front of the bus to get back on the road. But the same student began having a second seizure. After another five minutes, Howe found the medicine in the student’s backpack and gave it to him to stop the seizure.

Less than a minute later, an ambulance and fire truck pulled up. The student made a full recovery after spending a night in the hospital.

Howe’s quick response ultimately saved the student’s life, Clark-Pleasant transportation director Bob Downin said.

Howe was honored by Clark-Pleasant for his quick response Feb. 11, along with a second driver who pulled up to a student’s house while burglars were inside, drove away and called police.

In both cases, the drivers did everything they should. They remembered their training, kept the students calm and even continued the rest of their route, Downin said.

Bus drivers get 40 hours of training each year. They are trained in multiple scenarios, including fires on the bus, getting in an accident and performing CPR on a student, but even their training can’t cover every incident that may happen, Downin said.

“I’ve been doing this 20 years, and I’ve seen a lot of stuff happen, but I would say that neither one of these I’ve encountered before,” Downin said. “We’ve had some bad wrecks, threatening situations and buses on fire, but nothing like this. This was alittle unique.”

Howe has been with the school district for less than two years. He decided to become a bus driver after 30 years of driving a semitrailer rig. A student on his bus typically has seizures every six months, so Howe was trained on the medicine he needs in case of emergency, but the student had never had a seizure on a bus before.

“The chances of that happening on a bus are slim-to-none, and I got the slim,” Howe said.

Another bus driver for Clark-Pleasant, Shirley Snider, also was honored after she stopped to drop off a student and saw burglars in the home. Snider was taking students home from school Feb. 4 — a Wednesday, when students are released about two hours earlier than usual.

Snider was about to drop a student off at a Greenwood home but saw people moving around inside. Then she saw men with guns leaving through a side door.

Snider kept the student on the bus and drove about two miles away, pulled over and called police.

“She not only kept her composure, but she got the bus to a safe place to write down the license number,” Downin said.

Greenwood police are investigating the burglary.

After each incident, Downin talks to his bus drivers about what could have been done better. In both scenarios, the bus drivers did everything as well as they could have, he said. In both cases, Howe and Snider said they were OK to continue driving. But the transportation department should have offered to send a substitute driver or have another person accompany the driver during the remainder of their route after what could have been a traumatic situation, he said.

Downin said he was also proud of how the students reacted.

“They were genuinely concerned toward the other student. There was no making fun. There was no nothing,” Downin said.