Tomorrow, some local instructors and I will be hosting a 5-CEU Update/Refresher Class for about 40 of our area’s certified CPS Technicians.  We decided to get creative this year and one of the sessions is a comparative exercise in using CPS resources effectively.  We don’t know how it will turn out but our hypothesis is that teams of technicians armed with better resources will make less mistakes and complete tasks in less time than teams of other technicians with little or no resources.  This is how it’s going to work….

We’re going to have 3 of many different types of seats.  Each team will consist of 2 technicians.  We’ll ask them to chose seats that they aren’t very familiar with.  Let’s say we have 3 Britax BVs.  We’ll give Team 1, Team 2 and Team 3 each a BV and a scenario.  The scenarios for each seat will be the same and the seats are all identically screwed up (thanks to yours truly).  The scenarios can include information such as child age/weight/height, vehicle make and model year, seating position and parent/caregiver comments.   Team 1 may have absolutely nothing to work with except the seat itself.  Team 2 might be given just the CR instruction manual.  Team 3 might be given the Summary Sheet from the CD of Child Restraint Manufacturer’s Instruction and a 2009 LATCH Manual.  Teams working with other CRs will be given various combinations of resources.  Everyone will begin at once and we will time the teams to note how long it takes them to complete their tasks.  Once everyone has finished, each team will present their findings to the group and we’ll compare how many problems Teams 1, 2 and 3 caught and how long it took them.   This will all be done in a non-competitive, non-judgemental way although I’m sure there will be some joking and ribbing going on during the process.  We expect that the teams with little or no resources will not catch all the problems but we just don’t know exactly how it will all play out.  

We hope that everyone comes away from this exercise understanding the vital importance of using these wonderful resources at every single check.  The LATCH ManualColor Pictorial of CR, Recall Lists and CD of CRMI with Summary Sheets are all invaluable resources.  Personally, it is a source of great frustration for me to see technicians in the field routinely working without these resources.  Not only do you cut down on errors when you use them but you save yourself a heck of a lot of time too.  At a busy check, who has time to read entire sections of vehicle manuals plus CR Manuals from cover to cover (assuming they’re even available) for every seat that comes through your line?  In a perfect world you would have the luxury of at least 45 minutes-1 hour to devote to every single CR in the vehicle.  But we don’t live in a perfect world and that kind of time is a luxury that many fitting stations and busy check events just don’t have.  We need to manage our time efficiently while still providing an excellent level of service and education to the families and children we serve.   Having all the right tools makes you prepared for [almost] every situation and helps to reduce liability by ensuring that problems don’t routinely fall through the cracks.   

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes tomorrow!   

PS – This is what my van looks like after I loaded all the seats I could fit into it.  Can you say “deadly projectiles!”  LOL