Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Emergency personnel stop traffic while workers prepare to tow the ICS Headstart bus from the site of a one vehicle accident Tuesday west of Sardis on Highway 315. The driver, two adults and 17 students were sent to the emergency room at Merit Health in Batesville. The Panolian photo by Emily Williams

‘Seamless’ response reported after bus wreck

By Rupert Howell

Seventeen students, a driver and two other adults were involved in a Tuesday afternoon ICS Headstart bus crash just west of Sardis.

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Merit Health (formerly Tri-Lakes) spokesman Missy Hopkins said 20 patients were seen at that facility’s emergency room, all either treated and released or transferred.

HIPPA laws prevented Hopkins from revealing details but she did report that all students were treated and released. Two of the adults were transported from the wreck site by ambulance and the others were transported by school bus according to Hopkins.

Panola County’s Emergency Management Director Daniel Cole revealed that at least one of the adults was transferred to the Med in Memphis.

Cole praised emergency responders and Merit Health’s staff and emergency room workers.

“I’m telling you, everything went seamless,” Cole said of emergency responders, hospital workers and the bus’s staff.

Years earlier Cole had been involved with a bus accident involving a bus from Tunica County.

“I can tell you there was night and day’s difference from where we (emergency workers) were then to where we are now,” he said.

“They (three adults on the bus) did an excellent job of caring for the kids and keeping them safe, making sure they were strapped in while ignoring their own injuries,” Cole said, explaining that Headstart and special needs buses are required to have seat belts.

“If (those students were) not restrained, I think we would be looking at a totally different outcome,” Cole said and stated that he thought the bus rolled over at least once.

The MHP news release stated that the accident occurred at 3:55 p.m. and the bus, “left the road and collided with a ditch.”

The bus was apparently headed west on 315 less than a mile from Highway 51 in Sardis. Also responding to the accident was Sardis Volunteer Fire Department.

Cole said a bus was quickly provided by North Panola Schools administrator Michael Britt that took victims not taken by ambulance to Merit Health’s emergency room in Batesville as well as some of the students’ parents and an EMT from Med-Stat ambulance who accompanied the youngsters.

Cole was also highly complimentary of the Batesville hospital’s crisis management planning and stated, “They deserve to be commended. They were ready for us when we got there.”

The emergency management director noted that staff from throughout the hospital was in place to receive wreck victims and within two hours, all kids had been treated and released.

Informaion on the condition of the adults including the one transported to the Med was not readily available.