The Week's Features
Seven of the industry’s finest to be inducted to Hall, October 12
Herring Motor Company keeps classic line alive
Recovery management and technology services now one
Delivers Class 6 capability in a Class 5 Super Duty package
Recovery “dance” lifts overturned truck
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingMay 22 - May 28, 2019

City, State
RATES
Portage, IN
$125
(Pop. 36,828)
Monrovia, CA
$180
(Pop. 36,590)
Bowling Green, OH
$95
(Pop. 30,028)
Panama City, FL
$87.50
(Pop. 36,484)
Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
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Wasted Training

sleep dcfc4By Randall C. Resch

Recently I conducted a two-day California Highway Patrol safety course in San Diego, with two company owners and 26 drivers in attendance.

Overall the class went well, with the exception of one driver: an eight-year veteran towman who found it better to arrive late, slump in his chair, sleep on and off and repeatedly look at his cellphone during class discussions.

During day two's hands-on skills, he distanced himself and refused to be involved. At the end when I asked what he thought of class, he raised his hand and stated, "No comment." When he turned in a required evaluation form, he provided zero narrative leaving one comment: "learned nothing at all."

It's rare to have attendees react like this. I don't know what outside issues or influences may be present in his work or personal life. For 25 years as an industry and military trainer, I've tried to make classes fun and full of activities that include lots of reality-based recovery scenarios.

I believe it's my obligation as an instructor to provide leadership and instructional value that stimulates and motivates tow operators. It's my job to help promote operator safety while trying to build confidence, motivation, professionalism and competencies to produce what I refer to as "varsity players." It's the attending drivers' responsibility to learn course material they can add to their mental toolboxes and save for that moment when the technique or information is needed.

I strive to provide information that caters to entry-level towers as well as help refresh towers who've worked the trenches. Having read other comments regarding class, many veteran towers commented they'd forgotten some techniques or safety requirements that were considered industry-appropriate while admitting they were guilty of shortcuts that side-stepped safety.

Training needs a driver's proper attitude and willingness to learn. There's not one single tow operator in today's world who knows everything there is to know about towing and recovery. I don't care how much macho or talent an individual has, there are lessons to be learned every day. It's a matter of how we perceive information.

In a world where tow operators are continually being killed roadside, the willingness to learn might be the determining factor in survival scenarios. Too many towers get killed because they didn't follow protocol or use industry-standard techniques.

Training is only as good as the person who's willing to accept its value. If a driver isn't willing to learn or at least be part of the brotherhood of towers ... it's their loss. I believe that an opportunity to attend training without distraction is a blessing.

Training is not about gaining another certificate; it's about building life-saving skills, capabilities and attitudes in making YOU into the best operator possible. If you're that tower who knows it all, you're your own worst enemy. My courses can't be all things to all people; I'll continue concentrating my efforts on towers who are willing to learn.

As far as the disgruntled tower mentioned earlier, he attended class both days and barely passed the written test. However, with his attitude, I wouldn't remotely consider him part of the varsity like the majority of professional towers; and I wouldn't consider him for hire if I were in need of an operator.

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week's Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off-road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry-related articles for print and on-line, is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame, and, a recipient of the 2017 Dave Jones Leadership Award.
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Spotters for Rotators, Heavy Wreckers

image7 6a8f2By Randall C. Resch

I taught a California Highway Patrol Operator's safety course recently that included tow operators of all ages and experience levels. At the start of every class, I hold a safety briefing to remind all hands to have their heads on a swivel; especially when tow trucks, carriers and forklifts are on the move during techniques and scenarios.

About mid-way through one class, a young tower wasn't paying attention as a carrier was backing up across the yard. When I saw his actions, I immediately stopped the class. His naïve, but unintentional, movement seemed like the perfect segue to have a discussion regarding the safety and dangers of backing up.

Too Often

Many years ago as a budding tow driver, my dad gave us his version of on-scene, in-the-yard, backing safety. It was simple and to the point, "Don't put your wrecker in any location where you have to back up unnecessarily."

In our line of work, it's not always possible to avoid backing.

At the San Diego Police Department, their own policy says, "If there are two officers in a police vehicle, the passenger officer will exit (the) vehicle and provide a visual, 'second set of eyes' to the backing movement."

If a two-officer police car had an incident while backing, both the vehicle's driver and the second officer would be held accountable. Officers working alone were required to make a full walkaround of their car before travel.

How many of you take a walkaround of your tow trucks and carriers to see if there are any obstacles or other persons before you drive off?

Who's to Help?

Enlisting a spotter is a perfect-world situation if there are others around to become your spotter. Many of the world's tow companies are mom-and-pop operations and spotter availability is not always possible. Still, the truck's operator must be aware of their surroundings at all time.

The same applies when you're on the road. Due to the sheer size, bulk and blind spots, every backing movement can be potentially deadly. A solid set of hand signals is the best way to communicate between the tow truck's driver and the spotter that's behind them.

In this litigious time for accidents and injury, not having written narrative in your company's employee handbook could weigh heavy on the outcome of the lawsuit. When these situations occur, an injured plaintiff or representative of the deceased will assuredly attack your tow operator's driving record, their background and your company's training.

If your company's employee handbook makes no mention of safe-backing protocol, the total price of a lawsuit could be monumentally increased. It may not be not fair, but failing to make any attempt to prevent a backing incident plants the seed of incompetency. It makes perfect sense to include a spotter when big rigs are backing up. Like other dangerous tow-related situations, get people out of harm's way.

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week's Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off-road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry-related articles for print and on-line, is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame, and, a recipient of the 2017 Dave Jones Leadership Award.
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