When I was a kid in Guatemala, my friends and I used to go to a candy manufacturing plant. For just a few pennies we would receive a huge block or bag of chocolate, mints or whatever they were processing at that moment. Broken or incomplete marshmallows and cookies were also sometimes available. You can imagine this was almost like heaven to us.

Years later, to the best of my recollection, we’ll say the 1980s, I was living in Eastern Canada when suddenly I saw an ad for a Dairy Queen Blizzard. At that time, for only a couple of dollars, you could purchase a small or medium size Blizzard. Dairy Queen was taking broken cookies or candies or whatever they have in the production line, and putting them into my ice cream. The difference being that now we had to pay premium prices instead of the “kids’ heaven” prices I paid as a child in Guatemala.

Like the re-purposing of the chocolate and candy scraps, if we desire a different output, we must think in a different way. We need to be creative, and of course, put our safety glasses on.

Taking safety seriously

The transportation department at Abbotsford Christian School has been busy trying to develop a “safety culture.”  This means we need to see everything through a safety lens, constantly making sure that we are reducing risk factors in our decision-making process. In other words, all procedures and protocols need to keep in mind the safety of the student and driver.

Ever since I started driving the bus for ACS, all bus drivers are required to complete a course consisting of 40 hours of both class and field training (based on the School District 34 format). Two years ago, all of our elementary school students had bus evacuation and safety training and we just finished doing it again in 2018. Additionally, at the end of the last school year, all of the bus drivers took a “refresher course” for professional school bus drivers.

Supporting each other

Safety is not the sole responsibility of a single individual or a single department. Rather, it is a “corporate effort.” It is for this same reason that all the three campuses have fire drills and lock down drills. The objective is to always be prepared, in order to reduce risk and of course, to reduce possible negative end results. I do not want to digress too much, but I hope you understand that safety, safety and safety…involves us all.

Bus drivers at ACS have absolute confidence that we have the support of the principals, vice-principals, and staff to handle all kinds of issues happening in YOUR buses. From rules governing behaviour to making changes in patterns and discipline, we are doing things in the hope that parents and students will also support the bus drivers.

All doing our part

We have a set of rules on our buses. Lately, we have been working on sending agreements that students and parents must sign. We want to make sure that we are all on the same page. For example, on all buses we have the rule that no food or drinks are allowed except water. The reason is not so that the drivers don’t have to clean up garbage left behind; rather, it is for safety reasons.

Let me explain. If a student is having fruit as snack and leaves the peels on the floor, a student boarding the bus could step on it and fall. What would you think if, in the fall, he or she hits something and knocks a couple of teeth out? Just because of a peel!

Or, consider this: a student is choking because of food or a small piece of candy. The driver cannot attend immediately as we need to first safely stop the bus. This could take a few seconds or even a few minutes. The time taken could be critical. This brings us back to the measure/rule for safety: no food on the bus. Is it unfair, especially considering the long routes? Perhaps. However, it is better to be safe and hungry than satisfied and injured.

Our desire is to make sure all our students arrive at their destination safely.

For us, this may mean seeing things differently than we did in the past, just like re-purposed candy. I always try to remember it is not I, nor my skills I trust, but our Lord. “The Lord is my strength and my shield, Psalm 28:7.