Southeast Senior Services held a special drivers workshop in Juneau from March 17 to 20. Senior center drivers from Angoon, Haines, Hoonah, Kake, Ketchikan, Klawock, Sitka, Wrangell, Yakutat and four Juneau Care-A-Van drivers participated.
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 passengers with special needs, including those with Alzheimer's Disease and related disorders. The Smith System Defensive Driving and the PASS courses were emphasized.
The Smith System Defensive Driving is a technique developed 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. Smith System delivers behind the wheel instruction to over 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 passengers, and create an atmosphere of well-trained professionalism in even the smallest transit systems.
The PASS Driver Certification program ensures that rural transportation 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 Dale Morris, Care-A-Van Supervisor and Certified Smith System Trainer, conducted the Smith System training. Doug Bridges and Robert Milton, Care-A-Van Driver and Certified PASS Trainer, conducted the PASS training. Special Guest Merritt Andruss, Geriatric Nurse Practitioner for the Juneau Pioneers' Home, instructed the drivers on "Quality Service for Passengers with ADRD," emphasizing the role of the driver in determining whether or not the ride will be a pleasant one for the passenger with Alzheimer's disease. SESS/CCS Human Resources Manager Betsi Farrell and Doug Bridges covered agency policies and procedures as well as how to deal with emergency situations.
"This was an especially impressive group of drivers," Bridges explained. "They listened carefully, asked great questions, shared challenging situations, and offered solutions for each other."
The drivers, most of whom had to travel by plane or ferry to attend, were grateful for the valuable training opportunity. The Drivers' Workshop was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Alaska Geriatric Education Center. For further information, please contact Mr. Bridges at 463-6159.