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Prime Training Journal 9/7/15

Topic 10481 | Page 1

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Jessica A-M's Comment
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I'm a little behind in making this because I've been pretty busy. Here goes though.

Before school started. I arrived at the Campus Inn around 0130 on Monday morning. I've never been happier to get to a hotel after my long bus ride.

Day 1

Day 1 was a Tuesday because Monday was Labor Day so, no classes. I was in a large class that only had 4 days to get things done. I don't recommend coming during a holiday week that will shorten your time unless you are ready to buckle down or already have your CDL A permit.

Lots of waiting. Looootttsss of waiting. We got a schedule and my first step was the Apex physical (agility test).

You have to squat, bring your arms above your head, kneel on one knee and then the other (I instinctively reached out and grabbed the edge of the table to get back up from my left knee which is my weaker side and still passed), arms to the side. The examiner will then try to push your hands down and you have to keep them up, same with pushing them together or apart and you apply the opposite force. If you've had a physical injury to shoulder, knee, etc, you might get extra testing to make sure you can bend without stiffness or pain. Then comes the lift test. The first box is 45lbs and you lift it from the bottom of the box to your chin using proper technique, then the 65lbs the same way. There is an 80lb box that you lift to your waist, we had an older gentleman in our class who could barely lift the 65lbs and so was excluded from the 80lb because he was only going reefer. Then a 70lb box that you lift to your waist, walk about 5 feet, set down, pick up again and walk back. The older gentleman was also excluded from this. Then there is a tarp on a shelf above nose height that you pick up, put on the floor, then back on the shelf. It weighs somewhere between 60lbs-70lbs. The older gentleman was excluded from this lift as well. Then you go up and down 4 steps of a ladder 6 times and you're done. It wasn't very hard and I'm not in amazing shape. After that is either the drug test or the doctor's visit. Make sure to drink something dark like tea for the drug test, it is an unmonitored urinalysis but if your urine is too light then you have to do a monitored urinalysis. They also check for sugar and protein levels in the same test. The doctor's office nurse checks blood pressure, weight, vision, neck size, and hearing using a forced whisper. I was selected for the sleep apnea test because I'm heavy and my neck size was over what they want on a woman. Then the doctor has you squat and take two steps like a duck to simulate getting under a trailer, on women you get some stomach prodding by hand. I don't know about men.

If you manage to get through all that, you're good. The drug results come later. You may or may not get to your security interview on day 1. I did but I was lucky. This is a lot of lines all day for hours. Don't sit there and complain about the lines either, it's not going to get any better with someone complaining and you're just going to annoy everyone.

The security interview isn't as bad as it sounds if you have a fairly clean background. Yes, they will find everything so don't hide it. Hopefully your recruiter will bring up problems before you leave. Fill in your employment gaps.

Computer based learning is also on the schedule. A series of slideshows with little quizzes at the end that take about 4 hours total and must be done by the end of the week. And then simulation class. Don't compare these to a video game and learn your shifting pattern quickly because you'll need it.

Remember, this is a sped up course and you are going to feel like you're running around all week. Sleep well, take care of yourself, and come prepared.

I'll quickly give info on the rooms and food which really weren't too important to me. People complained but, the room is provided and food is free for the first week and, if you are there over the weekend it was free for the weekend for us that got left behind too. The food is acceptable. The room is also acceptable. Some rooms don't have a fridge or microwave. My room had no microwave and the fridge died the second day there unfortunately. So, don't expect to come with stuff to refrigerate until you actually get to the room. Roommates are random, men with men, women with women. I ended up with an awesome roommate luckily.

If you don't have your permit already, STUDY the High Road Training Program or get the app on android like I did. I shared TT and the app with a lot of people and most of us passed our permit tests.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Jessica A-M's Comment
member avatar

Day 2

0630 is about our normal start time all week. Today was for people who didn't finish the drug tests, physical, doctor's stuff, or interviews yesterday. We also had a schedule to go out to DMV to transfer or obtain permits. The highway patrol was doing onsite permit testing for just two days. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS! The DMV trip is going to take you over 2 hours or more if you don't pass the first time. Also, use the electronic testing and not paper. You can skip questions you don't know on the electronic system and it stops you once you've passed. People had the hardest time with General Knowledge which was the longest of the 4 tests and the combinations test. Some people also had problems with the air brake test and the tanker test. Tanker was by far the easiest. I passed tanker and air brake first, failed on general knowledge by 1 :( and same with combo (get your trailer brakes and tractor brakes straight in your head or you'll mix them up and fail like me). I unfortunately failed on general knowledge a second time and you can only test twice per day. Some of the questions in general knowledge were out of left field to me and I had to guess once I'd run out of skips. I needed a 40/50 to pass. I did eventually pass.

We also had a quick class on logs. This class was barely useful to be honest, they didn't really go over much. Pick up a copy of the slideshow if it's offered and keep up to date on your paper log book until you get a trainer. Do not save it until the end. If you have questions, call the log department asap to get it covered.

Simulations class continues. We first worked on upshifting, then downshifting, then skipshifting, then backing with straightline, driver's side offset, and blindside offset. I'll be honest with you here. The only thing these simulators do is help you get your shifting pattern down. When they stall, it's nothing like a real truck and you have no feel for the pull of the truck or the power or what a trailer feels like. Practice your downshifting as much as they will let you though because you need to be comfortable with the general idea of downshifting.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

Jessica A-M's Comment
member avatar

Day 3

A group of us who got drug test results back and had our permits ready got our real badges today which means you can go to the Millenium on the shuttle! Your paper food card is good at the Millenium and the food is good there but don't forget about Missouri's tax. I really suggest carrying spare cash on your person in case you go over. You can't return food and they don't take debit/credit cards and they also won't take your student ID com cards because you aren't officially hired yet.

If you don't have trainer offers by this point, wear your newly issued vest to the Millenium along with your badge and feel free to strike up conversations with friendly seeming drivers. Explore but don't be late to your simulations class. And, don't worry about buying a Prime hat. I was informed at the store that once you get your CDL through Prime, you get a free one.

You'll also get a binder with some stuff in it including your pre trip pages, complete with bad grammar. Don't wait to read it over. The short trailer and truck sitting in the parking lot near the cafeteria is available freely for pre trip practice. Use it now because later you're going to have your whole class crowded around it and it'll be nearly impossible to get in to look at stuff.

More simulations class. It's going to be feeling pretty rushed by this point. Take it seriously though. Once you pass the tests on your sheet and get marked off, they'll let you do some harder scenarios like city driving, mountain stuff, snow, rain, etc.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Jessica A-M's Comment
member avatar

Day 4

Absolute last day to have your permit transferred. I wrote above something incorrectly, our CBTs (computer based training) was actually due on Wednesday night. It may change in the future.

You may note that by this point I still haven't gotten into a truck. And you won't get to unless you find someone who will let you. You might have some free time today, if you have no trainer offers, now is a good time to go down to the Millenium and walk to the Prime training pad or take the shuttle to Prime East and watch backing maneuvers. Sometimes a friendly trainer will throw you in their truck for a little bit of work and what might be your first experience driving.

If you don't get picked up today, you get to stay over the weekend and so on until you do get picked up. Unfortunately, being a non smoking female made it difficult for me to find a trainer and I did start to really feel hopeless. It feels like Prime kind of forgets about you after this Friday. You get a meal card, you go through a pre trip slideshow and get a weekend schedule which is more pre trip and simulations class.

You get to do more simulation class, major pressure to pass your backing on this last day as well because these trainers are not here on the weekend.

Jessica A-M's Comment
member avatar

Day 5

Well, still no call from a trainer for me. You'll notice a lot of people have disappeared either with trainers or because they got sent home due to medical, drug, or not passing the permit test by Friday. Class started about 0700 with pre trip class again and then a simulator schedule. You're going to have a lot of free time today. Use it wisely. The Milennium is a great place to meet potential trainers. You do not want to be stuck through the next week and beyond. Some people met trainers playing pool, others met them through friendly classmates, some in the Milennium cafeteria line. You will definitely feel forgotten by now and it's a good idea to start chatting people up. One of the main questions I got asked was, "How's your pretrip?"

There really isn't much beyond this going on until the new week starts. I will add more posts when I have more downtime. Please note I've been on a trainer's truck now since 9/20/15 so, all this updating is from stuff I've already done. If you have questions, feel free to ask here. If you PM me, post saying that you did as I rarely check my emails.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

meTarzan's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for putting this up. Your's is the first detailed description of the agility testing I come across in research or just plain asking. I'm about ready to schedule an orientation. Please update your experience when you can. Good luck and be safe.

Paul's Comment
member avatar

I realize this is an old post, so I'm not sure if you'll get this, but could you give more details about the sleep apnea process? How much did they charge you for it, did you need a CPAP and if so did they pay for it? I'm going to be forced to take the same test, so I'm trying to be prepared. Also, thanks for the info about the agility test. That helps a lot.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

CPAP:

Constant Positive Airway Pressure

CPAP is a breathing assist device which is worn over the mouth or nose. It provides nighttime relief for individuals who suffer from Sleep Apnea.

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