New bus driver's manual clarifies 9-1-1 issue
The Hillsborough County school district has revised and reprinted the bus drivers' manual, making it clear that drivers and aides can call 9-1-1 in an emergency.
While protocol still tells them to issue distress calls on their radios and have the dispatch operators call for help, the manual tells them they can also call for help on their emergency cell phones. Drivers should make sure the bus is safely pulled over before they call.
The issue has received much discussion since the parents of student Isabella Herrera sued the district in November, alleging staff failed to call 9-1-1 when Isabella stopped breathing while on a school bus. Isabella had a neuromuscular disorder that made it difficult for her to hold her head up unless her wheelchair was positioned correctly. She died the following day at a hospital. The suit is pending in federal court.
Superintendent MaryEllen Elia said there was never a prohibition against calling 9-1-1.
The district is now undergoing a revision of its safety practices, particularly on exceptional student education.