School employees train in special needs transportation
By Julie Snyder
July 25, 2013
CLINTON TOWNSHIP — L’Anse Creuse Public Schools’ transportation department recently participated in a large-scale exercise aimed at ensuring safe travel to and from school for special needs students.
The all-day event, held July 18 in the parking lot of the John Armstrong Performing Art Center in Clinton Township, was hosted by L’Anse Creuse and the Macomb Intermediate School District in a cooperative effort to continually improve upon special needs busing.
Organizer Michelle Metdepenningen, a dispatcher at LCPS, said this was the second such training, and it again was attended by transportation and special needs experts from across the state.
“The goal of this program is to train school employees in proper and safe techniques involved in serving our special needs students, increasing safety and reducing liability at the same time,” said Metdepenningen, who organized the effort to bring the training program to Macomb County after attending a National Association for Pupil Transportation conference last year. She said the event is “to ensure students throughout the state of Michigan are being transported safely to and from school. This event trains transportation staff on the proper securement of wheelchairs and car seats to ensure that safety.”
L’Anse Creuse has 20 special needs runs, six of which include wheelchairs.
The event also prepares transportation staff to assist all students with special needs on a regular basis.
Transportation employees participated in crash testing products, first-aid methods, accident investigations, a mock courtroom trial to demonstrate the legal repercussions that can occur if a staff member or aide is not properly trained, and a mock school bus crash. Small group sessions focused on special needs transportation and evacuation, medical jargon, wheelchair securement, car seat and safety vest securement, seizure treatment, and conducting proper investigations.
Multiple organizations were involved in the safety training event, including the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, St. Clair County Regional Educational Service Agency, the Clinton Township and Macomb Township fire departments, Medstar Ambulance Service, the Clinton Township Police Department, Survival Flight, Life Net, and Q’Straint and Sure-Lok, two companies that specialize in wheelchair securement.
Lawrence Schneider from U-M discussed crash testing products related to school buses and equipment used in school buses, and Daniel Lee from MSU led an accident investigation.
Metdepenningen said they were able to offer the training program free of charge to employees, as a result of a lot of fundraising over the past year.
“We held a bowling fundraiser, sold baked goods and candy, and received donations from several companies to help defray the cost of this expo,” she said.
Superintendent Jackie Johnston expressed her admiration for the district’s transportation employees and their endless desire to improve and strengthen their safety skills.
“Congratulations and thank you to our transportation department, local first-responders and community sponsors for another successful (training program),” said Johnston. “At L’Anse Creuse, safety is our No. 1 priority. I truly appreciate their efforts to ensure the safety of our students, and students throughout Michigan.”
About the author
Staff Writer Julie Snyder covers Harrison Township, Mount Clemens, Macomb County, L’Anse Creuse Public Schools, and Mount Clemens Community Schools for the Journal. She has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2003, and attended the University of Toledo with degrees in journalism and photography. Julie has received several awards for her work in Arizona and Washington, including AP awards in Arizona for breaking news reporting and feature writing.
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