The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating after a boy was seriously injured jumping from the back of a moving school bus Tuesday afternoon near the corner of University Boulevard and Cruz Road. Troopers say the Durham School Services bus was transporting about eight children with developmental disabilities when a young boy unbuckled himself, got out of his seat, opened the emergency exit at the back of the bus and jumped. The bus was traveling about 15 to 20 mph when it happened. An emergency tone went off when the boy opened the door, getting the attention of the bus driver and an attendant. Before the bus could stop, however, the boy opened the door and either fell or jumped to the ground where his head hit the pavement. He was taken to Shands Jacksonville hospital with life-threatening injuries
School systems are responsible for ensuring that children with special needs are safely transported on all forms of federally approved transportation provided by the school system, and a plan should be developed to provide the most current and proper support to children with special transportation requirements. I expect and assume that FHP is investigating whether or not Durham School Services and Duval County School Board was compliant with Federal standards and regulations implemented to insure the safety of children with special needs during the transportation process. As recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are important considerations that needs to be done when transporting special needs children which include the following:
- Any child who can assist with transfer or be reasonably moved from a wheelchair, stroller, or special seating device to a seat belt or child restraint system complying with FMVSS 213 (Child Restraint Systems) should be so transferred for transportation. The vehicle seat should be forward facing, equipped with dynamically tested occupant restraints, and provided for the vehicle at the point of manufacture. The unoccupied wheelchair also should be secured adequately in the vehicle to prevent it from becoming a dangerous projectile in the event of a sudden stop or crash.
- Passenger seats that have a seat belt or child restraint system attached should have a reinforced frame and meet the requirements of FMVSS 208 (Occupant Crash Protection), FMVSS 209 (Seat Belt Assemblies), and FMVSS 210 (Seatbelt Anchorages). The manufacturer of the school bus should be consulted regarding the noted requirements when ordering or retrofitting an existing school bus.
- All children weighing less than 50 lb should be secured in an appropriate child restraint or safety vest meeting the requirements of FMVSS 213.
- Child safety seats or safety vests must be secured to the bus seat in a manner prescribed and approved by the manufacturer of the safety device. The child restraint should not be secured on a school bus seat adjacent to an emergency exit.
- Child safety seats used to transport children who weigh less than 20 lb or are younger than 1 year should be attached to the school bus seat in a rear-facing position. A child restraint that is approved for rear facing for greater weights should be considered for a child who weighs 20 lb before 1 year of age.
- Occupied wheelchairs should be secured in a forward-facing position.
- Three-wheeled, cart-type units and other wheelchair or stroller-type devices should not be permitted for occupied transport in a school bus unless results of impact tests demonstrate that the device can be secured under impact loading conditions. Any wheelchair or stroller-type unit designed and approved by a manufacturer for transportation must be used according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Wheelchairs should be secured with fastening devices that are attached to the floor. Any occupied wheelchairs should be secured with 4-point tie-down devices. These tie-down systems should be dynamically tested with a dummy the size of a 50th percentile adult male or with a dummy at the appropriate size for the type of wheelchair used. They must have demonstrated capabilities for restraining the wheelchair during a frontal impact with force conditions of 30 mph and 20g. The wheelchair securement system must not apply restraint to the occupant and should attach to the frame of the wheelchair rather than to the wheels. The occupant should be restrained to the wheelchair with a separate device.
- Lap boards and metal or plastic trays attached to the wheelchair or to adaptive equipment should be removed before loading and should be secured separately for transport.
- An occupant restraint system that has been tested at force conditions of 30 mph and 20g for upper torso restraint (ie, shoulder harness) and lower torso restraint (ie, lap belt over pelvis) should be provided for each wheelchair-seated occupant.
- Any liquid oxygen transported in a school bus should be securely mounted and fastened to prevent damage and exposure to intense heat. An appropriate sign indicating that oxygen is in use should be placed in the school bus.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the boy who is at Shands Jacksonville.
As always, stay safe and stay aware.
Jacksonville.com: Boy 11, Critcally Injured in Fall
News4Jax.com: FHP-Boy jumps from back of moving school bus