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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingJuly 17 - July 23, 2019

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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