Kevin Sehlmeyer

Area first responders train on simulated school bus crash

May 17, 2012 // 0 Comments

‘We prepare for the worst and hope for the best’ by BETH ALTENA Within the last month, Courtland Township firefighters, Cannon Township firefighters and Cedar Springs firefighters all responded to what could be a devastating event: accidents involving school buses. Luckily there were no students on two Rockford school bus accidents this year, but with 870,000 students riding buses daily in the United States, it makes sense for firefighters to be as prepared as possible for the eventual call. “Everyone’s got school buses in their area,” said instructor Kevin Sehlmeyer, of Rescue Resources LLC of Rockford, who provided the training along with two other instructors. Twenty firefighters attended the daylong class at Courtland Fire Station, 7480 14 Mile Road, Rockford. They came from departments across West Michigan, including the cities of Reed City, Sturgis, Cedar Springs, Big Rapids, and the townships of Grattan, Oakfield, Courtland and Plainfield. “You don’t often get a chance to do this kind of training,” said Courtland Fire Chief Micky Davis. A former church school bus, donated by Louis Padnos Iron & Metal, was the simulated school bus on which firefighters practiced. Training was as much what not to do as what to do. Hands-on, Sehlmeyer demonstrated techniques and then allowed each of the firefighters to have their own turn. From breaking and removing the glass in the windows to finding the best lines to cut through the body of the bus, training concentrated on getting first responders into the vehicle as fast and safely as possible. “If we were doing this on the street the idea is to get us in and the kids out as soon as possible,” said Sehlmeyer. He pointed out some things not to do: leave hanging chunks of metal around the edges of the access holes, what he called “head dingers.” “Even if we have our helmets on, a lot of rescue and EMS personnel don’t have helmets.” The same is true for the tools not being used for a moment. Sehlmeyer advised his class to set them down behind the wheels or under the bus where they aren’t a tripping hazard for rescuers or patients. Ripping open a school bus is a different animal than a family vehicle. Sehlmeyer noted there is more layers […]