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.
Recent national incidents have put increased attention on safe commuting and what passengers can do to protect themselves during a transit emergency. “The most important tip anyone can follow is to wait for the instructions of the crew,” said Scott Sauer, chief system safety officer for SEPTA. “Crews know the equipment best and have been trained to safely remove passengers from vehicles should the situation warrant evacuation...
Are you getting frustrated because — in spite of what you’re doing — collisions are not dropping at your agency? With just a few tweaks, you can make a difference. If you are a chief training officer, training director, instructor or equivalent at your agency, then this message is for you.
I may be all alone on this one, but I discovered that my kids (who were not allowed to play “shooter” video games) developed a distinct style of driving (and a lot of unsafe habits) while playing their video driving games as pre-teens and young teenagers. In fact, I wound up spending a great deal of my time trying to undo these habits and deep set tendencies while my boys still had their learner's permits.
Technology was not in my vocabulary as a kid, but now it's at the front of the line. I’m not saying I’m against it, but could we step back a moment and catch our breath when it comes to technology and bus operations? It seems what used to be a fairly unobstructed view of the road ahead, and to the sides of the bus using simple dashboards and adequately sized mirrors, now appears to resemble a cockpit of the world’s most sophisticated aircraft.
Congratulations to METRO Magazine on celebrating its 110th year of serving the rail and transit industry! I was excited and, frankly, stunned to learn that I was named one of METRO’s 20 “Most Influential People of the Decade” as part of the magazine’s observance of this milestone. Being included in the company of these well-known and respected transportation professionals and policymakers is a rewarding and humbling experience, and underscores the benefits of working together to further improve the safety and efficiency of public transportation.