COVINGTON - The school system's trash is Newton County Emergency Management's treasure.
At its last work session, the Newton County Board of Education unanimously approved the donation of two surplus school buses to NCEM for the organization's training sessions.
"We feel like this is a good use of our surplus buses," said Deborah Robertson, associate superintendent for administration at the Newton County School System.
The buses are about 20 years old - with a recommended life of 10 years - and parts that could get the buses working are no longer available.
The final paperwork was signed earlier this week to complete the transaction, and officials at NCEM plan to take possession of the vehicles right away. NCEM is expected to pay for the removal of the non-mobile buses.
"It's an excellent opportunity and a very good gesture," said Jody Nolan, deputy director at NCEM. "They have a good structure, but don't run - we wouldn't want to take a fully operational bus for this."
Nolan said between now and the fall, NCEM will use the two buses for bus drills, which train workers to handle emergency situations that could happen on a bus, such as someone having a seizure, as well as calling for help and securing the bus.
"Nothing really elaborate," he said, adding that the buses need to remain intact for future exercises.
When they aren't being used, the buses will be stored.
In the fall, NCEM will use the buses for NCEM's bus extrication course, which is given through the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.
"(The course) teaches bus construction, stabilization, gaining access and extrication techniques using hand and hydraulic tools," Nolan said. "Emphasis is placed on the safety of the rescuer and the victim."
The 16-hour course is 50 percent hands-on and includes on-scene exercises, like learning the construction of the bus and being able to penetrate it, and different simulations, such as having an overturned bus or an upright bus with various patients to handle.
With two buses, Nolan said the class could serve about 20 individuals, so he hopes to find more buses in order for more emergency workers to get the training.
Nolan said after the class is over, the buses are likely to be of no further use to them and will be sold for parts to pay for related course costs and other training materials for the organization.
Newton County Emergency Management also is working to train school bus drivers and hope to continue to work with the school system on future projects and training activities.
Michelle Floyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.