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Bristol, Va. installing GPS system in school buses

By Laura Halm
Published On: Feb 07 2013 04:53:01 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 07 2013 05:03:23 PM CST

Are we prepared if a school bus breaks down? What if there is an emergency? Those are just some of the questions Bristol, VA City leaders are working to answer.

BRISTOL, Va. -

Are we prepared if a school bus breaks down? What if there's an emergency? Those are just some of the questions Bristol, Virginia city leaders are working to answer and the solution is as simple as a GPS device.

A ride on a bus is a safe one -- school buses in Bristol, Virginia currently use radios to stay connected. "It's a way of communicating with our bus garage and central office in case we need to for emergency reasons," said bus driver Randy Hodge.

But things are changing; Mayor Jim Steele says city leaders want a GPS tracking system monitoring the locations of every school bus simply to help with all the 'what ifs.' "If you have a bus go over the hill, a GPS unit could get your first responders there to take care of children or whatever that accident may involve," Steele said.

A total of 26 buses pick up and drop off children in Bristol, Virginia. "We think with the situation that's happened across the country with the shooting, there will be grant money for this. If nothing else we'll pay for it ourselves if it comes down to it," added Steele.

Assistant Superintendent Rex Gearheart says installing GPS units will be a proactive approach and be the biggest help for after-school programs and sports. "We travel to Lee County and over into Buchanan County and some places that are pretty far away and more rural than we are. If something happens late at night when we're coming back, it would be good to have that if there was an emergency," he said.

Here are some more facts we learned: no date has been set yet for installing the GPS systems. City leaders hope to put a similar system in city transit buses, and Mayor Jim Steele hopes other school systems will also install GPS tracking systems.