Susan Defee is a Clayton County bus driver for the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf. In her 20+ years as a driver, Susan has seen the importance of being prepared for emergencies and severe weather on the road – especially when it involves transporting children.
What are three items you include in your bus Ready kit in addition to the suggested items on the Ready Georgia checklist?
As a bus driver, everything I bring on the bus must be tied down and secured, so I have to keep this in mind when I’m gathering items for my Ready kit. I watch the weather closely, and if there’s even a remote chance my bus could be stuck due to winter weather, I pack a number of things that are both necessary, but also fun for the kids. I have a battery booster that works on cell phones, tablets and laptops and I bring extra phone charging cords. I try to pack food that would be fun for the kids (chips, cookies, fruit chews). When you’re dealing with children in an emergency, anything you can do to keep them calm and make the experience a little more enjoyable can go a long way. Oh, and one necessity I always bring – toilet paper.
Have you or a loved one experienced an emergency where a home or automotive Ready kit would have come in handy?
I have a sister who lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and one time a hurricane left them without power for three weeks. During that time, she probably used most of the items found in a home Ready kit. At one point, she drove up to meet me to pick up generators (there were none to be found in Florida right after the hurricane) and I know an automotive Ready kit would have come in handy for the first few hours of the drive until they were out of the affected area.
Why do you think emergency preparedness is important?
In my line of work, I’m responsible for other people’s children, so I’m constantly thinking about what I can do to make sure I get these kids where they need to go safely. You don’t have to be a bus driver to know this is important. Anyone responsible for children should be prepared for a scenario where they may be stranded in their car. The more prepared and calm you are, the better the experience will be for everyone.
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