More than 60,000 kids in Nebraska ride school buses and vans each day. State law requires school districts to conduct emergency bus drills twice a year. In the Hastings Public School District, like in many other districts, drills are conducted once in the fall and once in the spring.
Larry Keilig drives hundreds of Hastings Public School students every year, and their safety is always on the top of his mind. So when he teaches emergency procedures, he is extra careful with the details.
"We go through and explain where the emergency exits are, how to operate them. They all have red handles or knobs, how to open them. It's very much like a fire drill, quiet, orderly-fashioned, no pushing, no shoving or anything like that," says Keilig.
All students must go through emergency training, even if they only ride the bus for school activities. Bus drivers like Keilig are responsible for showing students the proper ways to open emergency doors and windows and to exit the bus safely.
"We also ask they sit on their bottoms and scoot out, which puts their feet much closer to the ground because if we evacuate in an emergency, we don't know what's outside," says Keilig.
For those like Hastings High School senior Trevor Wilkerson, who stopped riding a regular bus route long ago, the drills help them feel prepared even if they may never need to use them. It's a peace of mind for bus drivers and parents alike.
"I'm pretty prepared. I know where all the exits are, I know how to open them," says Wilkerson. "Know if you're on one side of the bus you try to get to the nearest one."