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.
When official-plated transit authority vehicles were scarce and basically reserved for those in upper management to go about their daily business to and from meetings, etc..., road control would be the responsibility of the “fixed-post foot dispatcher.” Not all of these positions have been eliminated, but I wonder if any readers remember the stability and sense of control that was present while the foot dispatcher was on post?
One agency decided to conduct a “safety blitz” to determine whether mirrors were being set correctly and discovered, much to their surprise, that a growing number of operators were leaving the yard in a mad rush to avoid being late — deciding to adjust their mirrors at their first available opportunity. What they learned was that many of these operators left the yard with every intention of setting their mirrors correctly. However, once these operators began servicing their routes — the task appeared to "slip their minds."
Bus operators are not blindfolded. Operators are trained and required to identify potential hazards, based on their forward planning skills. With regard to left turns, these so called “blind spots” are really areas behind the left A-pillar/mirror that are “temporarily” obstructed to the operator, not blind to the operator. The key here is for the operators to utilize their observation and forward planning skills to minimize the time that their vision is temporarily obstructed. The pedestrian that regrettably becomes a victim of bus contact should be in the clear view of the operator long before arriving at the location where the contact occurred. Pedestrians are not “coming out of nowhere!"
The world is a very busy place. We rely on our eyes to provide us with information that will keep us from harm as we operate our vehicles. It is difficult to over-emphasize the importance of effective scanning in order to recognize potential hazards early enough so appropriate action can be taken to avoid conflict. As a result, we spend a lot of time advising operators how often they should scan their mirrors, where to look for hazards, and how to bring objects into view that may be temporarily obstructed, and so on.
Today I’d like to mention a few effective policies that were routinely utilized in the past, which were (and for the few agencies that still practice them) very effective in producing safe bus operators, including covering your right, terminal checks and company vehicles.