"Thank god for mobile phones" - School principal hails students response in horror school bus crash

By David Raleigh

A school principal has described as “heroes” all of the students who helped each other out of the wreckage during yesterday's dramatic school bus crash in Limerick

Ms Noereen Rafferty said, despite a strict school policy surrounding the use of mobile phones, that she was thankful that students had their personal phone devices at the time of the crash, which they used to immediately alert emergency services and parents about the collision.

“Thank god for mobile phones. I give out about mobile phones everyday, but thank god for mobile phones,” she said.

“The children had them and we had our mobile phones, and the school secretaries manned the (school) phones all day and coordinated (communication with parents).”

She praised staff at the school and the surrounding community for their “care” and rapid response to students following the bus crash.

“What happened was unbelievable. All our staff and students were outstanding, all working together. The care that people have for one another shun through - we knew it was here anyway, but I suppose it just shun through. It was incredible the support and the calmness they showed.”

She added: “Our staff were in the hospital too and the way they were able to put parents and students at ease…the teachers here on the ground, and at Caherline school, were also able to bring about calmness.”

She said the school's major emergency plan ensured a swift response to students.

“One thing is you have to be ready, and if you follow educational guidelines, you have to have a plan in place, and we are very conscious of that. And we had our plan in place, and thank god it went to plan.”

Ms Rafferty also expressed the school’s “best wishes” to the bus driver and female motorist involved in Wednesday’s collision.

A total of 46 boys and girls were traveling to John the Baptist Community School, in Hospital, when the bus crashed on its side in a field after a collision with a car.

Thirty-four students along with the male bus driver and female motorist, were treated at University Hospital Limerick (UHL), having sustained cuts, bruising, and fractures.

Most of the injured were discharged from hospital, and psychological counselling has been made available to local families.

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