Back we are, driving through the Franconian wilderness. I got a new vehicle, a new route, a new co-driver, all “brand” new, with little chips around the edges.
I took over a vehicle that needed a bit of cleaning and disinfecting. The former driver (a stand in, as I was told) did not take too much care on things. I noticed that the tank was half full – or half empty, what ever you may prefer – but at the filling station only ten litres went in. The fuel gauge was stuck – nothing dramatic, but not nice. A trip to the trader’s garage. Also the ad-blue reservoir was nearly empty and had to be refilled.
On the first day I realised that a part of the restraining devices was not working properly, what meant a trip to our own garage. This is not a “not nice” “thing”, but dangerous neglect of duty.
I had tried to reach the parents of my kids before starting, but out of five, I just spoke to two. One family did not react to my calls and messages (they simply thought it not to be necessary), while two families were totally out of reach, because the phone numbers I was given, were simply not working / outdated. I was a bit miffed.
On the Frayday before work would start seriously, I drove the whole tour alone, just to make sure where to go, turn around the white wale, look for places to maneuvre etc. I have to cover mostly one small rural town. On Tuesday the following week, the first real workday, the lovely Franconian town’s administration had installed at least three new constructing sites. So it was improvising from the start. It is not a large town, and I visited it ages ago, but the traffic guidance is, let’s call it peculiar.
I had asked my new co-driver whether she was briefed on the different devices for securing wheel chairs etc., and she happily said “yes”, she could show me how it was done. Sadly she did not know how to use necessary belts (“We never used this.”), and she had absolutely no idea about medications. Now she knows about both.
On Thursday afternoon it was initially a nice drive, the kids (those who can speak and interact) were having fun, when the lovely black girl in the wheelchair all of a sudden started to make some unwanted noises. I only saw her in the mirror, and had no place to stop. I wanted to get out the first child (for reasons I do not want to explain). When we stopped at her place I took care of wheel chair girl, and realised that she had an asthmatic attack. I opened her jacket and found that she had been fixated in her wheel chair so strongly that I could not stick a finger under these goddam belts. In fact I could barely stretch these damn things to open them. I threw the crap off while the co-driver searched through the child’s school bag for medication. She found a haler, and some other stuff. I was unsure, and in the end decided that we could make it home, when I saw her breathing steadily. She took a position where she could straighten her trachea, was not turning blue or something like that. To this minute I could still rip my arse off : I should have given her the haler without further thinking – it would have made it a lot easier for her. Next time I know better.
At this moment, when I saw I could go on and would not need an emergency doctor or other help, I realised the noise around me : The fourteen year old girl was whining loudly, the eleven year old boy was yelling about death, and the mother of the first kid was standing in the slide-door weeping. Goodness, at least my co-driver was silent. I politely told them to be quiet (“Ruhe jezz !”) and then rammed the vehicle through the commuter traffic to reach her place. At least she was breathing freely by then.
Next morning we finally met the girl’s father who showed (& explained) us the different medications, and some tricks with the wheelchair – we could have had this earlier if I had reached him (or someone else from the family) by phone.
I never have started a new tour so unprofessionally.
Frayday morning I went to my dispatcher to tell him about the whole thing. The list I was given, with names, contact data, and a column containing additional info about the kids was crap (for wheelchair girl nothing was noted down !) Other information was not accurate, contact persons had moved, family names were wrong. And it can not be that a co-driver happily explains that she knows how to handle things, when basic practices are not explained / shown to her. (What means that in the two months before the holidays, when she had started (in June) and worked with a part of “my” kids, they drove around without basic restraining devices – that’s a no go !) I was angry & serious, and I know that he understood.
He said that they had to hire a lot of new people in short time, and that proper procedures were neglected. He knows that he can’t let things slide. I doubt that there will be a mandatory information event about proper restraining etc. and / or medication. I would be happy if these topics would at least be addressed at the next works meeting (“Betriebsversammlung”), because everybody must take part in such an assembly, no excuses.
I had more action in those first four days than on other tours in a whole school year.
Now I have to look for Sunday Music.