Prepared for Breakdown

January 4, 2019

Yesterday, two high school basketball teams from Salem, Ore., travelled to Bend, Ore., with a new safety protocol in place. According to the Statesman Journal, the change was inspired as a result of an incident in August, in which a bus carrying Salem-Keizer High School cross country athletes broke down on a road trip to Bend.

Craig Swanson, Principal of Sprague High School, said the cross country athletes had to wait three hours for another bus after their bus broke down west of a mountain pass.

“We learned some things of how to make sure buses are communicating,” Swanson said. “Then we ran a bunch of scenarios, too, of like, what if they would have been 15 more miles further into the pass, and there was no bus communication, how do we get that to the appropriate people?

Buses will be equipped with a 55-gallon bucket that contains supplies such as water, blankets, toilet paper and other items that the bus passengers will need while waiting for help if the bus breaks down. Schools are working on partnership agreements, in which they help each other if another school's bus breaks down in their area. If a bus breaks down in an area in which they are unable to communicate with Salem, they will communicate with the authorities that arrive to help the bus instead.

“Then we can deploy what we need to get them back home to Salem-Keizer," Larry Ramirez, Director of High School Education for Salem-Keizer, said. "So whoever is responding to our situation will help us with communication.”

Even with the safety precautions in place, there may still be times when school districts decide that conditions are too unsafe for them travel. Peter Weber, Director of the Oregon Schools Activities Association, said the decision is up to the schools and school districts, who have their protocols and processes in place."

"At the end of the day it's an (athletic) contest and they can be rescheduled," Weber said. "People need to make sure they're doing what's safe for the students and the coaches and the fans."

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