Bus driver reunited with quick thinking students

February 11, 2012

On Jan. 17, Merideth Cole, bus driver for the Hood River County School District, was injured when her bus rolled forward while she was repairing a broken tire chain.

Cole was pinned by the door, trapping her between the bus and embankment as she attempted to get back on the moving bus. Four elementary students were on board.

The incident happened just after 3 p.m. on Highway 35 near Odell.

"How are my kids?" were Cole's first words to Mike Green, who was first to arrive.

Hood River County Sheriff's Office, Odell Fire Department and Oregon State Police troopers responded to the scene, and with the assistance of Hood River Towing, were able to lift the front end of the bus enough to enable rescue crews to free Cole's trapped leg.

The four students on board, who all attend Parkdale Elementary, witnessed the accident. They acted quickly, and were able to prevent further injury by engaging the emergency air brake and bringing the bus to a stop.

Students receive annual trainings on how to respond to emergency situations on a bus. This training may have saved a life, according to Bob Dais of Hood River County School District.

Cole was treated at Emmanuel Legacy Hospital in Portland and is currently home after her two-week hospital stay.

"The students and fellow drivers are looking forward to her return to work," Dais said.

Last Monday evening a dinner was held to celebrate Cole's recovery. The children had not seen Cole since the accident.

The dinner was organized by Cindy Sim, transportation supervisor, who was among the first on the scene of the accident, and Nate Frye, district child development specialist.

The families, co-workers and local patrons who took part in her rescue gathered at the Saw Tooth Restaurant to celebrate her recovery.

"Many thanks to local law enforcement, Odell firefighters, Hood River Towing, Mike Green, Joe Springs and Mike Emerson for their diligent efforts in helping both Merideth and the students during the accident," Dais said.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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