Cartersville City Schools’ drivers are trained in how to deal with bus fires and some emergency medical issues — in addition to best ways to maneuver an 11-ton bus filled with young passengers along icy or wet roads.

As a result, the Georgia Department of Education has placed Cartersville among 16 systems to earn a statewide school bus safety award.

The Cartersville system earned the Pupil Transportation Safety Award from the state education department, a news release stated.

State School Superintendent Richard Woods presented the awards to the winners during the annual Georgia Association for Pupil Transportation conference at Jekyll Island June 17.

Kim Black, transportation supervisor for Cartersville City Schools, noted it was only the second year the state education department has given the awards.

“It was a true honor to be recognized so quickly for our extra effort,” she said.

The awards emphasize the importance of safe school buses and recognize pupil transportation professionals, the release stated.

It said Cartersville City Schools “keeps the focus on bus and student safety” by requiring all drivers to attend training sessions on fire extinguisher use and smoke evacuation, first aid, and how to stop uncontrolled bleeding until trained emergency medical technicians arrive.

In addition, all drivers are trained in how to deal with seizures and diabetic issues, the release stated.

Black said she initiated the safety training sessions that were in addition to state-mandated training for her 30 drivers during the last school year.

“We also did a bus fire simulation with the fire department,” Black said.

Winners were selected in eight divisions based on enrollment size. Cartersville and Madison County Schools were the winners among school districts with full-time student enrollments between 3,650 and 5,149, the release stated.

A panel of judges selected the winning districts based on applications which evaluated a number of factors that affect bus safety, the release stated.

Some factors included completion of safety training, evacuation drills, and other safety initiatives with students; evaluation of accidents and internal practices to prevent accidents; and innovative initiatives used to inspire safe practices, hire and retain drivers, and enhance student safety, the release said.

Georgia school bus manufacturer Blue Bird and Yancey Bus Sales & Service sponsored the awards. They recognized school systems for “going above and beyond to ensure safe and efficient student transportation.”

Woods said, “Our pupil transportation professionals are entrusted with precious cargo, and work incredibly hard each day to make sure Georgia’s students arrive at school safe and ready to learn.

“These 16 districts are going above and beyond to ensure student safety and recognize the school bus as an extension of the overall climate and culture of a school. I thank them for their efforts and commend them for their work,” he said.

Other 2019 Pupil Transportation Safety Award winners were Cobb County and Marietta City school systems, as well as the Gwinnett, Towns, Treutlen, Atkinson, Clinch, Mitchell, Jefferson, Morgan, Pierce, Madison, Thomas, Ware and Camden county systems.

Almost 1 million Georgia students rely on the professional drivers who operate school buses to provide “safe and dependable” transportation to and from school daily, the release said.

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