Posted: Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Tammy Cummings, a special needs bus driver, has been named the National Special Needs Bus Driver of the Year. Tammy was recognized for her quick action last year when a tractor trailer came around a curve, out of control, and across the center line toward her bus.
Steve Baker of AMF-Bruns of America, a company that manufactures wheelchair securement products and occupied restraint systems, said in all his years he has not seen someone recover so quickly from an accident to immediately care for the children and focus on their needs.
“He expressed the fact that she recovered from the accident quickly and her concern focused immediately on her students is primarily why she was given the award. He added that speaks a lot about her training,” said Special Needs Transportation Coordinator Teena Mitchell.
GCS bus drivers are trained to stop the bus when a large vehicle is headed toward the bus, then to secure the scene of the accident. “Clearly, Tammy’s training kicked in automatically because she knew to keep the students on the bus with downed power lines,” said Mitchell. “The fact that she reacted instantly at both of these critical moments does indeed make her a hero!” she added.
Tammy is part of the GCS Special Needs Training Team that trains both drivers and aides. The training consists of equipment securement and strategies for managing special needs behaviors. Following special needs training protocol, Tammy ensured the wheelchair and the safety vest were properly secured and by keeping calm and distracting the children. She knew the students and what they responded to, therefore giving her the tools to redirect their attention from the dramatic scene developing around them to a comfort zone.
"The bus camera video will be used in our training to teach why it is important to secure student equipment and know your students, as well as how to calm yourself in stressful situations by focusing on the children,” said Mitchell. “Our parents are calling Tammy a hero, and we are so thankful our hero was on this bus at this minute to help our precious children!”
Mitchell added, “Her heroism is a result of all the things she does right! She would never think of herself as a hero. She just sees it as part of her job. I don’t think there could be a more humble person for all she does for special needs.”