Q'NEWS

NAPT Selects Winner for the Q’STRAINT/Sure-Lok Special Needs Transportation Award

The National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) awards committee has named Therese Pelicano, the transportation manager for Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS), as the 2019 Q’STRAINT/Sure-Lok Special Needs Transportation award recipient. Pelicano has served in various capacities in the pupil transportation industry for over 30-years.

NAPT Award Winner Therese Pelicano

Q’STRAINT’s Chris Yarber Congratulates Therese Pelicano

The Q’STRAINT/Sure-Lok award was presented at the NAPT conference in Columbus, Ohio. As the winner, Pelicano, as well as every driver and trainer in her district, will receive free enrollment in Securement 101 – the industry’s leading online wheelchair securement training course. Securement 101 is a product of the Q’STRAINT Training AQADEMY.

About the Special Needs Transportation Award

The NAPT Special Needs Transportation Award – now in its 25th year – is designed to honor a pupil transportation professional who makes school transportation a safe and effective way for students to get to and from school each day.

“I am honored and humbled to win the NAPT Special Needs Transportation award presented by Q’STRAINT/Sure-Lok,” said Pelicano. “It’s nice to be recognized by the industry that you work in. I have been doing this a long time and I am very passionate about student transportation safety.”

The On-line Hands-On Training Approach

“The free Wheelchair Securement 101 online course seats will come in handy for my school district and work seamlessly with our already established hands-on training program,” Pelicano affirms.

Pelicano plans on incorporating Wheelchair Securement 101 into her existing curriculum so that it compliments what she is already doing in terms of educating her drivers and maintenance technicians on wheelchair securement. She is confident that it will serve as a valuable reinforcement tool in keeping students safe on the road.

WHAT IS SECUREMENT 101 ONLINE TRAINING COURSE?

Wheelchair Securement 101 is an on-demand, interactive course designed to provide a comprehensive training on wheelchair securement best practices. Through a series of four lessons, transportation providers will learn how to operate a variety of 4-point securement systems currently available and understand how to properly secure a wheelchair.

“We were thrilled when Q’STRAINT/Sure-Lok offered to enhance the NAPT® Special Needs Transportation award benefits package,” said Barry Suduth, who just completed his term as NAPT president and is the transportation director at Stanford Public Schools. “The addition of free training – for an entire district – demonstrates their commitment to the student transportation industry in general, and particularly the dedicated, hard-working people that provide specialized transportation to students with disabilities.”

“The QRT-360 is so user-friendly it basically eliminates the potential for human error… When using the fully automatic retractable tie-down it’s virtually impossible not to use it correctly.”

Pelicano Covers a Lot of Territory

Pelicano has had her work cut out for her as the transportation manager in a school district located in Maryland’s largest county. The FCPS operates a fleet of approximately 400 buses spanning 800 square miles, and covering 66 schools. She is further challenged by providing service to 28 non-public schools, located as far away as Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Pelicano Receives High Marks throughout FCPS Transportation District

“As the school-based physical therapy supervisor, I have worked with Therese very closely and she has demonstrated consistent passion and dedication to supporting students with a wide range of disabilities and to the staff who support these students,” said Sara Scovitch, FCPS physical therapy supervisor.

“Therese’s knowledge and expertise are an asset to our school system. She has played a vital role in establishing and providing a comprehensive, hands-on training program,” said Jeannie Thompson, FCPS transportation manager. “Therese is always looking for ways to provide additional education and support for her immediate staff and for the school-staff who may come into contact with buses.”

An Agent of Positive Change

When Pelicano started at FCPS in 2005 the school district was using an outdated ratchet system to secure students and their wheelchairs. She proceeded to switch over to the Q’STRAINT QRT-360 four-point wheelchair securement retractors

“The QRT-360 is so user-friendly it basically eliminates the potential for human error,” Pelicano declared. “When using the fully automatic retractable tie-down it’s virtually impossible not to use it correctly.”

Innovator in School Safety Transportation

Pelicano has always been an innovator in her field. She came up with the idea of taking her team on a bi-monthly field trip to visit schools that teach students with special needs. At these outings, all the trainees are assigned to different buses where they practice wheelchair securement with the students in an effort to provide them with real-world experience.

Pelicano has built strong relationships with her school system’s Occupational and Physical Therapists. Sara Skovitch, who runs Frederick’s Physical Therapy (PT) Department participates in joint training with Pelicano’s transportation team, which is a rarity in her profession.

“A lot of school district transportation departments do not have a relationship with their physical therapists. It is really important to work closely together since our departments interact with each other,” added Pelicano.

According to Pelicano. “Physical therapists, school transportation directors and staff need to be more in sync with each other. When they are working in unison it becomes a more seamless journey for the kids. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. Everyone wins when we learn from each other.”

“A lot of school district transportation departments do not have a relationship with their physical therapists. It is really important to work closely together since our departments interact with each other.”

National Highway Transportation Safety Association

As if Pelicano’s schedule is not already busy enough, she also does training for the state of Maryland for kids in safety seats and the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTS). The members are PT’s and OT’s who work in hospitals and are inexperienced in transporting patients. Pelicano’s team of seasoned transportation professionals puts them on a pathway to safer wheelchair securement.

What’s Next for Pelicano?

In terms of the future for Pelicano, she would like to work in school bus transportation safety training on a national level, where she could utilize her skills throughout the country. She believes there is room for improvement in the area of wheelchair securement training and wants to reach the highest number of school districts to offer her skills and make an even larger impact.

As this year’s award winner Pelicano gets free enrollment in Wheelchair Securement 101 for her entire district, full conference cost reimbursement as well as a plaque and $500 grant for additional education service funding allocation.

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