No one will ever forget the sight of that US Airways plane making a landing in New York City's Hudson River that frigid day in January 2009. As a Bronx native, I, along with millions of others who have made the daily commute down the Henry Hudson Parkway, could never have expected something like this would ever happen.
Fortunately, pilot Chesley B. Sullenburger III and his crew were on board. I just want to thank God that this story had the most incredible and happy ending possible with no loss of life. It's not often that a pilot must land his plane in the icy Hudson River so properly positioned for rescue personnel to respond in minutes. Talk about Getting the Big Picture — that was the ULTIMATE BIG PICTURE!
Sully exhibited qualities that we can apply to prevent injuries and fatalities in our own field of employment. As subject matter experts and training professionals, do you see that routine, seemingly harmless driving behavior could end up as a very serious situation? In an early media interview, credit was given to the pilot's and co-pilot's simulator training.
To ensure that all bases are covered and that both students and instructors are prepared to confront any potential hazardous situation, ask yourself, is everyone:
Ready for Anything - A good example of this was on September 11. It began as a routine morning until disaster struck and then it was the experience and readiness of the various responders that kicked in with one goal in mind: getting the job done!
Getting the Big Picture - When faced with an unusually high amount of a specific type of incident at your facility and, the solution can be applied in the simulated environment as Sully must have experienced, there is no excuse for not implementing your past training experiences as diligently as he did. In a crisis, he reverted back to simulated training scenarios and his military pilot experience.
Getting Creative - Pilot Sullenburger got creative real fast. Can you do the same when you see a pattern developing at your locations? Can you apply an immediate 'fix' to developing problems? If not, how long can you live with the problem?
Implementing Experience and Training - Only a well-trained and experienced pilot could have succeeded in accomplishing such a miraculous recovery. Is your experience utilized to correct harmful patterns that may be developing? Have confidence in what you have learned and impart your acquired knowledge in situations just screaming out for your input.
Staying Focused Under Pressure - Sully kept his cool along with all that were on board that plane. Do you and your trainers keep your cool? Those of you who incorporate simulation training into your curriculum, do you work together when applying your skills to what is taught in your simulators?
Are you satisfied with your responses to the above points? If not, don't kid yourself. Go back to the drawing board because you have some work to do.
If we encourage our operators to treat operating a bus as a shift-long Zen moment, we may be able to reduce preventable crashes by a significant amount. The “Zen Operator,” who drives precisely at all times, is also less stressed. The Zen Operator flows through difficult, tight situations easily and their body language and vibe give passengers a sense of confidence. The operator whose passengers have a white-knuckle death grip on the back of the seat in front of them is not practicing “Zen Bus Operation.”
Ah, summer. Pool parties, barbecues, the smell of honeysuckle and the sight of lightning bugs. Or — a rise in crime, agitated riders seeking air conditioning, heat stroke, a new fiscal year, and the necessary, but unpopular, fare increases. However you view the summer months, with a direct correlation between high temperatures and increased crime, it's vital for transit leaders to be asking themselves, "Have we done everything possible to keep our people safe?"
The RMS occurred last month in Albany, N.Y. and it was a truly remarkable learning experience for those in attendance. The RMS serves as a one-of-a-kind event that brings together transit risk management professionals from all across the country to focus on key topics related to safety, risk management, planning and prevention.
I recently attended, and had the opportunity to be part of a panel of speakers, at the NYC MTA Bus Safety Symposium. A variety of topics were discussed regarding bus and pedestrian safety issues. What was obvious is we all have a common goal to provide the safest transit systems possible, in spite of the possibility of increasing bus/pedestrian and bus/cyclist collisions.
I have had it with the never-ending meeting of the minds on the predominant causes of left-turn bus-pedestrian collisions. This whole issue is getting obscured with presentations that slice and dice every possible cause of these incidents into a collection of symbols, numbers and formulas. Please stop.