When an area fire department requested the use of two motorcoaches for training, the Connecticut transportation company DATTCO was happy to help out.
“They wanted to do some training on how to extricate passengers who may be experiencing a medical emergency from inside of the bus,” said Matt Maglio, DATTCO’s Director of Operations.
The company sent a double-decker and a single-deck bus along with two drivers, who showed the firefighters how to operate features on the coaches, including emergency windows.
“We showed them how the windows open and close so that, if they needed to use them to bring people in or out of the bus, they could,” said Maglio. “We showed them how the wheelchair lift works, and how the doors are controlled. They wanted to see the basic elements of the engine, such as the different components of the bus just in case there was ever a mechanical problem or if there was a fire or something like that.”
This isn’t the first time the fire department in Colchester, Connecticut, asked DATTCO for vehicles and personnel. The company provides training support at no cost to the fire department. The time commitment by DATTCO was about 2-3 hours, excluding drive time of about 40 minutes each way.
Maglio describes the training as mutually beneficial.
“If there is an emergency, they know how to operate everything and then, they won’t have to break the window to get people out or use a pry bar to open the luggage compartment if they know how it works,” Maglio said.
Unfortunately, he added that there have been incidents over the years where things have been unnecessarily broken on a bus because firefighters didn’t understand how the equipment worked, or that there was a better way to take care of a passenger.
Maglio’s advice for other motorcoach companies is to be of service to the local community when you can.
“The more cooperative you are, the more education you can spread. It’s good for everybody involved. For the passengers, most importantly, and then for the carrier and the driver, and everybody in between. Community service is a very important part of the motorcoach industry,” he said.
Annual training drills
Every year, the department does training drills involving commercial vehicles. One reason the department wanted to train with motorcoaches is that the community is near two casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.
“There’s a lot of bus traffic going through there, and they’re concerned about potential emergencies on buses,” Maglio said.
One of the DATTCO drivers who helped with the training is Tim Zigmont, a retired fire chief from a local department.
“He was able to really understand what it is the trainers were after and kind of guide them in the right direction,” said Maglio. “Tim’s been driving a long time, so he’s very familiar with the buses. It worked out really well.”
He added that the Colchester Fire Department followed up with a letter thanking DATTCO for its support of the department’s training.