Quick thinking meant that minibus driver Sakhy Badshah was able to act fast and ensure the safety of pupils on his Buckinghamshire Council school transport service to Wingrave Church of England School when their vehicle’s engine caught fire.
After he noticed a burning smell coming from the vehicle’s engine on the Winslow Road coming into Wingrave, Mr Badshah put his safeguarding training into practice and immediately pulled over and evacuated the minibus, getting the eight pupils on board to a place of safety well away from the vehicle.
As Mr Badshah called emergency services to report the situation, a fire took hold in the engine and quickly spread to the vehicle itself.
The fire brigade, police and the Highways Agency all attended the scene. Two fire appliances extinguished the fire, but the minibus was severely damaged.
The headteacher of Wingrave School, Matt Thomson, quickly became aware as he approached the scene on his way to work that the vehicle involved was the school minibus. He located the driver and pupils and rallied other school staff to help get the children to the school where they could be cared for after their ordeal.
Express Travel’s service records, safety interval checks and documentation for the vehicle were all checked and found to be complete and in good order. Unfortunately, with vehicle engine fires – which are thankfully rare – it is difficult to determine the exact mechanical fault.
Receiving a ‘Proud of Bucks’ award from Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport Steven Broadbent, Mr Badshah said: “I always check my vehicle before heading out and I know the company always carry out their checks and MOTs but you still have to be ready for the unexpected. That’s why I was able to react quickly when I smelt burning and immediately got the pupils safely off the vehicle.”
Steven Broadbent said: “I’m delighted to be able to recognise Mr Badshah’s professionalism with this award. His prompt reaction to the unexpected turn of events that day helped to ensure the safety of the pupils in his charge.
“We work closely with all our school transport operators – in this instance Express Travel – to ensure that their staff are well trained and work to the highest standards, as exemplified here by Mr Badshah.”
Janet Lee, Assistant Head Teacher at Wingrave Church of England School, commented: “We’re so grateful for Sakhy’s swift and calm action that ensured the safety of the children on the bus. Sakhy’s safeguarding skills are second to none and it’s incredibly reassuring to know how composed and well-trained he is in dealing with situations like this.”