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Breakdown and Emergencies

An emergency plan would include details of how to keep all members of the party safe in the event of a breakdown or road traffic collision. In the first instance, if the driver of the vehicle is uninjured then his/her instructions must be followed. It is important that everyone keeps quite so the instructions can be heard by all occupants.

In a breakdown situation,  the driver will make the decision on whether it is safer to evacuate the vehicle or stay inside. Normally it is safer to evacuate the vehicle, in particular if it is on a motorway. Care needs to be exercised if using the rear exits as these may be on the offside so passengers getting off may be stepping out into passing traffic. Pupils need to be supervised by adults and all party members must stand together behind any safety barriers at least thirty metres away from the vehicle. No-one should ever return to the vehicle. Pupils should not be seated by emergency exit doors. This is the responsibility of teachers or party leaders so if an evacuation is necessary, a responsible adult is opening the exit and checking traffic before getting students off the coach.  If the driver determines it to be safer to stay on board then it is good practice to empty the last four rows of seats in case another vehicle crashes into the rear of the coach. Pupils can share seats nearer to the front until assistance arrives. There would have to be a very good reason why a driver insisted on staying on board the coach, in particular, if sitting on the hard shoulder of a motorway.

In the  unlikely event that the coach is involved in a road traffic collision, always follow the driver’s instructions as most drivers will be trained in emergency evacuation and other matters relevant to road traffic collisions. It is best practice to have two named members of staff that will have responsibility for a Teacher Emergency Pack. This pack can contain relevant equipment supplied by the school such as foil wraps for each pupil, a whistle, torches and a clip  board and pen to complete a check once evacuated to ensure every member of the party is out of the vehicle and present. The pack could also contain details of any passenger with any medical conditions. It is important to remember that this information and passenger list check will be extremely helpful to the emergency services. If the driver is not able to assist in the evacuation of the coach (if injured), then the party leaders need to understand how to evacuate safely and also what must be done once leaving the vehicle.