QSL Case Study: Special School District, St. Louis
Ken Mulder, director of transportation for the Special School District in St. Louis County, Missouri, believes that education and training are as important for his system’s drivers as for the passengers they serve every day.
The Special School District of St. Louis County is a unique program providing special education and technical education in partnership with 22 school districts throughout St. Louis County. Mulder’s department transports students to 282 schools, including seven of the Special School District’s own campuses.
With a passenger base that is almost entirely special needs, Mulder sees training as especially important to maintain skills in the equipment and systems, such as wheelchair securement, that assure passenger safety.
“This past year we had someone from Sure-Lok come in and do a securement training, which was awesome,” says Mulder. “He did eight one-hour sessions, broken into smaller groups, and the outcomes were great. People learned a lot of new techniques. I’ve even got some drivers who have been doing this same job for 20 years that learned something during that session.”
The Special School District has a mix of Q’Straint QRT and Sure-Lok Titan retractable securement systems on its buses. Mulder says that, compared to other devices the system has used, these retractors provide advantages to passengers and drivers alike.
“This past year we had someone from Sure-Lok come in and do a securement training, which was awesome…He did eight one-hour sessions, broken into smaller groups, and the outcomes were great. People learned a lot of new techniques. I’ve even got some drivers who have been doing this same job for 20 years that learned something during that session.”
“I think they’re much better. Because they’re self-retracting, they’re continually making sure that chair is secure and tight, compared to before when a chair could work back and forth and it would loosen.”
For drivers, Mulder says, “there is an advantage because you just hook it and release it, compared to having to either ratchet it or wrap it over. So they’re not having to get down on their hands and knees as much as they used to, and they’re not getting injured as much as they used to.” Plus, with its distinctive blue webbing and highly-visible, yellow “locked” indicator tag, the AL700 Titan Retractor Series lets operators know when the retractor is in locked mode.
Besides keeping his drivers current on the proper use of safety-related equipment, Mulder also believes in keeping his system current with the latest solutions. That’s why the Special School District became an early adopter of the Sure-Lok GO2 adjustable cylinder holder. Unlike permanently installed mounting systems, GO2 attaches quickly and securely to standard floor tracks whenever it’s needed.
“If a child switches routes, switches schools or switches homes, or if the bus is down that day, we can just grab the GO2 and go,” Mulder says. With the previous fixed system, “we were kind of limited,” says Mulder. “If the bus went down we had to have a backup bus with the same bracketry. With the GO2, we can just maneuver or move that thing around from bus to bus.”
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