From Oct. 2-5, Southeast Senior Services (SESS) held a special Drivers’ Workshop in Juneau. Senior Center drivers from Angoon, Haines, Hoonah, Kake, Ketchikan, Klawock, Sitka and Skagway, as well as four Juneau Care-A-Van drivers participated. The Juneau Care-A-Van Dispatcher and Wrangell Senior Center Manager also attended. The goal of the intensive training was to provide the information and experience necessary for the drivers to offer maximum safety and exemplary service to senior citizens and passengers with special needs. The Smith System Defensive Driving and the PASS courses were emphasized.
The Smith System Defensive Driving is a technique developed more than 45 years ago that emphasizes avoiding situations that could require abrupt emergency action by giving the driver time to see hazards as they develop, as well as to provide enough room to maneuver around them. The Smith System delivers behind the wheel instruction to more than 15,000 fleet drivers each year and has presented their program in 47 countries. In the past decade, Smith has provided services to more than half of the current Fortune 500 fleets and is the only company that guarantees the quality of their training.
The Community Transportation Association of America offers the PASS (Passenger Service and Safety) certification program for transit professionals in rural areas. This training course helps build confidence and skills among drivers and other staff, improve service to pas¬sengers, and create an atmosphere of well-trained professionalism in even the smallest transit systems. The PASS Driver Certification program ensures that rural transporta¬tion drivers have current expertise in passenger assistance techniques and sensitivity skills appropriate for serving persons with disabilities. Information on mobility devices, such as wheelchairs and walkers, is included.
Doug Bridges, Certified Community Transit Manager, and Robert Milton, Care-A-Van Quality and Safety Trainer, conducted both the Smith System and PASS training certification courses. SESS Program Director Marianne Mills provided training on reporting incidents, injuries, and accidents as well as tracking daily services provided. NTS Coordinator Caroline Frengle reviewed the SESS Transportation Policies and Procedures, while NTS Coordinator Doug Bridges covered the process of vehicle maintenance. CCS Human Resources Manager Carleen Mitchell reviewed agency policies and procedures, including the code of conduct.
“This was an especially impressive group of drivers,” said Mr. Bridges, “They listened carefully, asked great questions, shared challenging situations, and offered solutions for each other.”
The drivers, of whom most had to travel by plane or ferry to attend, were grateful for the valuable training opportunity. The Drivers’ Workshop was made possible by a Rural Transit Assistance Program grant from the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. SESS, a division of Catholic Community Service, provides services for older Alaskans and their family caregivers throughout Southeast Alaska. For further information, please contact Mr. Bridges at 463-6159.