School Bus Evacuation Info

Emergency School Bus Evacuations

GirlsWhile school bus transportation is generally very safe, there are occasions when it becomes necessary to evacuate the bus.

Advance knowledge and practice of what to do in an emergency will increase the likelihood of a real evacuation going smoothly.

This guide was created to teach the basics of emergency school bus evacuations.​

When to Evacuate:

Evacuation should only be done when remaining on the bus could present a greater hazard than evacuating the bus.
Reasons for evacuation:
1. Stalling or becoming disabled in an unsafe location (e.g.,cannot be seen by traffic, on
railroad tracks, in an intersection, near a hazard) 
2. Fire or danger of fire 
3. Smell of raw or leaking fuel 
4. Bus is in direct path of a sighted tornado

Types of Evacuations:

1. Front door evacuation 
2. Rear door evacuation 
3. Alternative emergency exits (e.g., roof hatches, windows, side door, if applicable)

Why Evacuate the Bus?

Student safety and control is best maintained
by keeping students on the bus during an
emergency and/or impending crisis situation
, if doing so does not expose them to unnecessary
risk or injury. The decision to evacuate the bus must
be a timely one. Evaluate the situation by considering
the following conditions: 
1. Is there a fire or danger of fire? 
2. Is there a smell of raw or leaking fuel? 
3. Is the bus likely to be hit by other
  4. Is the bus in the path of a sighted
5. Would removing the students expose
them to speeding traffic, severe
weather or a dangerous environment
such as downed power lines? 
6. Would moving students complicate
injuries such as neck and back injuries
and fractures.
7. Is there a hazardous spill involved?
Sometimes it may be safer to remain 
on the bus and not come in contact
with the material.

Emergency Equipment

The following emergency equipment should be in all buses:

  • First Aid kit
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Three reflective triangles
  • Belt cutter (seat belts, child safety seats, wheelchairs) Special Ed. buses

Mandatory Evacuations

The driver must evacuate the bus when: 
1. The bus is stalled on or adjacent to
railroad tracks. 
2. The position of the bus may change 
and increase danger (e.g. bus
comes to rest near a body of water
where it could move and go into
the water.) 
3. There is danger of collision (e.g.
unsafe sight distance - but is not
readily visible in the direction of
4. A hazardous spill has occurred, 
there is a need to quickly evacuate
to an area upwind at least 300 feet 
from the incident.

Emergency Packet

An emergency packet is located inside the First Aid kit.
This packet contains the following items:

  •  A blank seating chart 
  • Emergency phone numbers

Be Prepared - Student Helpers

  1. Assign two responsible, older student assistants to each emergency exit.

  2.  Assign another student to lead the students to a "safe place" after evacuation.

Familiarize Yourself With:

  1. All emergency exits on the bus
  2. Location of emergency equipment

Determining a Safe Place

After evacuating the bus, students will be lead to a safe place. A safe place will be at least 100 feet (approximately 40 paces) off the road, in the direction of oncoming traffic.
This will keep the students from being hit by debris if another vehicle collides with the bus.

  • Lead students upwind of the bus if fire is present.
  • Lead students upwind of the bus at least 300 feet (approximately 120 paces) if there is a risk from spilled hazardous material.
  • If the bus is in the direct path of a sighted tornado and evacuation is ordered, escort students to a nearby ditch or culvert and direct them to lie face down, hands over head.
  • They should be far enough away so the bus cannot topple on them.
  • Avoid areas which are subject to flash floods.
  • Be sure to instruct your student helper as to where they should lead the students after evacuation.

General Procedures for Emergency Evacuations

1. Determine if evacuation is in the best interest of safety.
Keep students in the bus unless conditions warrant emergency evacuation.
2. Secure the bus:

  • Place transmission in neutral
  • Set parking brake
  • Shut off engine
  • Remove ignition key
  • Activate warning lights
  • Activate loading/unloading lights

3. If time allows, notify dispatch with following information:

  • Location
  • Conditions
  • Type of assistance needed

4. Dangle radio microphone out of driver's window.
5. Determine safest exit for evacuation (front door, rear door, alternate emergency exits)
6. Order evacuation 

  • Stand and face students
  • Open door and get their attention
  • Give the command "Front door emergency evacuation" "Stay seated until it is your turn to exit. Leave all your belongings on the bus."

7. Briefly explain the evacuation procedure: 

  • "The student assistants will evacuate first and assume their positions at the exit doors.
  •  I will pass by your seat walking toward the back of the bus and you will calmly and quietly stand and enter the aisle as I dismiss your seat and proceed to the front of the bus.
  • Exit the bus using the front door."
  • "Students in the first seat on the right side (door side of the bus) will stand and enter the aisle first, followed by students in the first seat on the left side of the bus.
  • We will continue alternating right, left, right, left, until all the students have entered the aisle and exited the bus.
  • " Warn students: "Walk, do not run.
  • Use the handrail.

8. Begin the Evacuation:

  • Evacuate student assistants
  • Turn and walk toward the back of the bus, dismissing the first seat on the right followed by the first seat on the left.
  • Continue back alternating right, left right, left until you have reached the back of the bus and all the seats are empty.

9. Walk up to the front of the bus checking that no students remain on the bus.

  • Do not move a student you believe may have suffered a neck or spinal injury unless their life is in immediate danger (ex: fire)

10. Retrieve emergency equipment

  • fire extinguisher
  • first aid kit
  • body fluids clean-up kit
  • 3 reflective triangles

11. Protect the scene.
Set out 3 reflective triangles as required by law.
12. Join the waiting students.
Account for all students and check for their safety.
13. Keep students together and do not allow them to return to the bus.
14. Prepare information for emergency responders.


Emergency Evacuations

There are several types of evacuation: 

  • front door
  • rear door
  • alternate exit

While each type of evacuation is slightly different, they have basically the same steps.

Rear Door Evacuations

The same steps as front door except: 

  • Students will be directed to exit out the rear door by sitting down and hanging their legs out the door.
  • Allow the student assistants to help them as they slide off the bus floor and onto the ground. Do not jump.

The student assistants will evacuate first, followed by the students in the right rear seat, then the left rear seat and continue to alternate right, left, right, left from the back of the bus to the front until all the seats are empty.


School Bus Evacuation Review

Click on the link above to complete the required School Bus Evacuation
Review. Be sure to include your name and campus on the form.

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