Counseling Offered for Students Affected by Fatal Bus Accident on Fischer Boulevard
34 students on Toms River school bus when it collided with pickup truck on Fischer near Yellowbank.
Though Toms River Regional Schools are closed today for Good Friday, the district shortly after yesterday's school bus accident on Fischer Boulevard posted a series of counseling options for those affected by the crash.
Toms River Regional is offering support to the families involved and has three resources available, according to a statement: "Any parent whose child was riding in BUS 101 and feels their child is in need of counseling services, please contact the following resources: TLC (732) 773- 8007; Pess (732) 886-4474; Mobile Resources (1877) 652-7624."
Schools reopen April 16, when the spring break ends.
A bus of 34 students from Intermediate East was traveling south on Fischer Boulevard around 2:30 p.m., when, police said, a pick-up northbound made a left onto Yellowbank Road.
The collision was fatal to the pickup driver, Thomas Grouss, a 60-year-old Toms River resident. The truck was crushed as the bus drove onto Ruby Road, which runs parallel to Fischer Boulevard, and took out a traffic light and shuttering southbound traffic.
The accident launched multiple emergency responders, with ambulances from Island Heights, Tri-Boro, Silverton and Toms River Police EMS. The bus was evacuated, with 11 students and the bus driver transported to Community Medical Center for "very minor" injuries, said Toms River Police Chief Michael Mastronardy.
At Community Medical Center, the emergency department is prepared for situations such as what happened yesterday, said Teri Kubiel, administrative director of emergency services and nursing education at the hospital.
"It's really a coordinated effort between the first response team at the scene and the emergency department to create a seamless response," Kubiel said. The commanding officer on the scene communicates with the emergency department about the number of patients and the extent of injuries, so the department is prepared for what's coming in.
In addition, the hospital is in communication with those transporting patients to the hospital, updating them on the conditions en route, she said.
"Sometimes conditions (of patients) do change," she said.
The response team at the hospital includes other departments, such as radiology and the laboratory, as well as the patient support staff to assist the families of the patients, she said.
Yesterday, the school district contributed to that support effort, sending Intermediate East prinicipal Bryan Madigan and assistant superintendent Debbie McKenna to the hospital to answer questions for parents.
"That provided additional reassurance to the parents and the patients," Kubiel said, noting Madigan and McKenna remained at the hospital until all of the patients from the school bus had been treated and released. "I greatly appreciate their support in being here and being able to answer many of the questions for the parents."
The hospital has had to deal with a large influx of patients before, Kubiel said, most notably when there have been bus accidents on the Garden State Parkway, and the coordination between the emergency personnel on the scene and the hospital is what makes the effort to meet all the needs of the patients so seamless.
Yesterday, the 11 students -- nine of whom came by ambulance and two who were brought in by their parents -- and the bus driver all were treated and released in about two hours, she said.
The hospital, which completed expansion of the emergency department a few years ago, has 82 patient treatment rooms in the 52,000-square-foot emergency department, one of the largest on the East Coast, Kubiel said. They see an average of 260 to 330 patients per day, with higher volumes in the summer, she said.
"It takes a team to make that (coordinated response) happen," she said, "and we're very privileged to have the experienced staff to respond to those situations."