Gazette opinion: Montana must be prepared to save lives

January 10, 2012
Billings Gazette


The bus crash that killed two people and injured more than 30 might have claimed additional lives if not for the drilling and planning practiced by emergency services.

The first crew of four Clinton volunteer firefighters arrived at the crash scene east of Missoula within five minutes of receiving the call — despite black ice on the highway that one firefighter described as a skating rink. Two survivors who had been ejected from the bus as it rolled on its side were pinned under the wreckage. They were extricated. A helicopter and ground ambulances ferried 12 seriously injured people to St. Patrick’s Hospital in Missoula. A Clinton school bus transported at least 20 other people with less-serious injuries to Community Medical Center. Rescue crews from several nearby communities responded to the bus crash and several other wrecks Sunday morning while the Montana Highway Patrol temporarily closed the treacherous road.


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