A school bus was submerged in the waters off the Intracoastal Waterway in Gulf Shores Wednesday, October 24, 2018 and was done in an effort to save lives. It was the first rescue drill of its kind done in our area and first-responders hoped to gain valuable knowledge through the exercise.
Stripped of tires, fluids and other harmful materials, a Baldwin County school bus slowly made its way to the water’s edge. The idea for the drill was first brought up by school system employees.
“This idea sprang from some of the symposiums we had with our bus drivers and the public,” said Baldwin County Schools superintendent, Eddie Tyler.
It was coordinated through Orange Beach Fire-Rescue and Saunder’s Yachtworks offered the use of its property and equipment to make it happen. Saraland Fire Department and Baton Rouge Police dive teams were just some of the other agencies on-hand. They plan to take what was learned home with them and share it with neighboring agencies.
“It’s something that we couldn’t find this kind of public safety training anywhere and it was also an opportunity to coordinate with other dive teams, share information, try to learn something new and bring it back,” explained Sgt. Craig Russell with the Baton Rouge Police Department.
The bus was submerged and held in place while dive teams took turns going into the bus. Dummies, simulating victims were placed on-board, which teams had to find and remove. Because this is the first time the drill has been done, every part of it was an opportunity to learn.
“This is uncharted waters for us,” said Battalion Chief Bruce Nelson with Orange Beach Fire-Rescue. “We couldn’t find anything anywhere of this kind of training so we’re kind of developing as we go and hopefully, in the future this will build into a good program and we’ll continue to do this into the future.”
Before going into the water for the hands-on training, participants spent a day in the classroom going over challenges they would likely encounter.