Published: Aug 19, 2010 6:42 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 19, 2010 2:41 PM EDT

NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. -  Lee County school bus drivers prepared for the school year by taking part in a smoke filled bus drill.

Nearly 700 bus drivers and transportation personnel went through the training at North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts Thursday.

The drill involved using mannequins and stuffed animals to act as students while drivers rescued them in a posed bus fire.

Cape Coral Fire and Rescue provided the non-toxic water based substance to simulate as smoke.

Most drivers were surprised at how difficult it was.

"Most of these people have never been in this situation so they couldn't even see their hand in front of their face", says Nena Garrett, supervisor of safety and training.

The idea for the training came after a school bus crash in Missouri killed two people in early August.

"This is the first time these guys have ever had any type of training involving a smoke bus so this is new for them", adds Garrett.

In addition, school bus drivers must complete at least eight hours of mandatory training every year.