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Prime Inc. training. Springfield, Missouri

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Turtle's Comment
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12/18/16 0600 Ready to leave the house and go to the airport.

I had a hard time sleeping the last few nights, and last night was especially rough. The anticipation and excitement levels are peaked. I've tried to will myself to relax and focus on the end-result, rather than the difficult journey to get there. But I've put a lot on the line for this. Failure will just not do.

My incredibly supportive wife of 27 years downplays the risk, assuring me that my worries are unfounded. She tells me I have more than enough skill and determination to succeed at whatever I do. But still there is that almost tangible fear right behind me, reminding me every step of the way that I've left a solid, well-paying career for a CHANCE at a dream.

We drive to the airport, exchanging nervous small talk during the 75 minute drive. We go over the to-do list one more time. I'm pretty sure I got everything done, but I'm sure I'll remember something as soon as the plane takes off.

I've spent the better part of the last few months setting her up for an extended time alone. Orientation and training can take as long as 4-5 months, and I may or may not be able to come home during that time. So I'm a little nervous, not being there to fix the various issues that may come up. Sure, my son, family, and friends will be around to help. But still..... I worry.

12/18/16 0855

Nearly boarding time. Still time to change my mind. I know, that's just crazy talk. But one phone call and I can be right back to work tomorrow. At least I'll be comfortable at what I'm doing.

Breathe..... relax.....

12/18/16 0918

Springfield, Missouri here I come! Actually it's Albany, NY to Baltimore/Washington, then Balt/Wash to Charlotte, NC, then Charlotte to Springfield, but you get the point. I'm going to do this! I'll try to document my experiences along the way. Peace.

Breathe.....

G-Town's Comment
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Good luck Turtle.

Turtle's Comment
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12/18/16 1935hrs

On board the final connecting flight to Springfield. Been in & out of airports and planes all day. Oh by the way, Prime of course offered a free bus ticket to orientation, but the thought of a 44 hour bus ride depressed the heck out of me. So I opted to fly on my own dime instead. However, Prime will still reimburse 10 cents per mile to help offset the cost, which in my case works out to be $129.60. Not a bad deal, i thought. The reimbursement ONLY comes IF and AFTER I complete PSD and get my cdl.

Without the usual daily distractions to occupy my noggin, I've had nothing but time today to think about my journey. This is truly an experience I've never....well.....experienced. To uproot my life and go barreling off to be a truck driver....whodathunkit?

I know these early writings have nothing to do with training, but it's kind of like therapy for me at the moment. I just need to talk to someone about it, and the nice lady seated next to me on this plane isn't in a talking mood haha.

We'll be landing soon. This is really happening.......

shocked.png

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.

PSD:

Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.
TNTrucker73's Comment
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Looking forward to your post Good Luck!!!!

Tastebuds's Comment
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Good luck and keep us posted when you can!

Turtle's Comment
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12/18/16 2025 hrs

Finally arrived at the Campus Inn. The shuttle driver who picked me up from the airport was extremely helpful and generous with advice. We chatted the whole way, and I gathered a little intel from him, such as locations of walmart, places to eat, etc. Once I arrived at the hotel, I quickly saw that one simply has to stand on the sidewalk out front and look both ways. Everything is within eyesight, and easy walking distance. Walmart, pharmacies, restaurants of all sorts are all there. Good to know.

I signed in at the Inn office, and the guy gave me a white folder with I assume some paperwork inside. He gave a brief rundown of cafe hours, directions within the campus, and he totally endorsed the Steak n Shake down the road.

You're assigned a room, and typically you will have a roomate. When the desk guy gave me my room key, he said that he would call my roommate to give him a heads up that I was coming. He didn't. I opened the door to my room, startling my roomate out of a sleep. Scared the bejeesus outta him! But he quickly recovered, said hi, and promptly rolled back over and went back to sleep. Good talk...

I finished my day with a quick walk to Walmart for shampoo and shaving cream to replace the ones seized by the airport gestapo. Apparently having more than 3 ozs of any liquid is akin to a terrorist act.

Off to bed. By all accounts, tomorrow will be a big day.

Oh yeah, the parking lot here is packed with big, beautiful shiny Prime trucks! That's enough to get the ol ticker tickin! Very exciting!

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

12/19/16 0630 hrs

Early is on time. On time is LATE!

Remember that here. They stressed the fact that if you can't make it to class on time, you can't deliver a load on time, and you will be out the door.

The first class of the day began at 0700, I was up at 0530 and in my seat by 0630. Typically a new orientation class has 80 to 100 new students every Monday. This class only started with 23 students. That's partly because of the holidays, and partly because of the winter storm this weekend. Either way it's good for us, because things aren't nearly as hectic as they usually are, we're told.

Shortly before 7, orientation began with a general rundown of how the program operates here, followed by paperwork to fill out, and then more paperwork, and then yet more. They explain what's expected of you, and also what to expect from them.

You're givin a schedule to follow for the week. Given our small class size, we shouldn't have any problem getting everything done. In between the scheduled tasks, we have to complete several CBT's (computer based training) modules. Basically these are videos we must watch, and answer a quiz after each. Simple stuff, really. They have a big room set up with scores of computers for you to use. Just walk in when you have some time, plop down at a terminal , and knock out a few videos, then come back later, etc. The computer room is open till 2300hrs. The CBT'S aren't due till Wednesday pm so there's no excuse to not get them done.

After the initial orientation meeting we were sent to the medical office for drug screens (urine only)and DOT physicals. The physical was pretty basic: bp, pulse, weight, height, eye chart. I was especially glad to see the type of colorvision test they administered. Being somewhat color vision deficient, I was extremely nervous about this. Some companies use the circle of colored dots that have a hidden number inside them. I suck miserably at those tests. To my delight, the color vision test here was three simple plate size colors on a wall: yellow, green, red. Simple!

My joy was short-lived however. My blood pressure came back too high, 160/100 in fact. The upper limit threshold is 140/90. Out of all the things that I did to prep for this career change, I never gave my blood pressure much thought, thinking I've been healthy all my life, why should that change now? Between the coffee and bacon I had for breakfast, plus the stress and nervousness of this whole venture sent me over I guess. I highly suggest you MAKE SURE you don't have any medical issues before coming here. Don't take your health for granted. Get your bp in control. It will suck to have to go home because of this.

"Come back tomorrow morning and we'll try again." she says. "What if I can't get it to come down?" I ask. "We'll then we can't give you a medical card." she replied. Oh boy. Now I'm REALLY stressed! But I gotta move on. No time to sweat it.

Next up is the APEX physical, which is administered onsite, but by an outside company. I'm not sure why. These were simply mobility and agility tests, to see if you can bend over, put your arms behind your back, etc. They also had several milk crates with varying weights inside we had to lift up to chin height and waist height. Then lift a tarp from floor to a shelf approximately 5ft up. The heavier weighted crates and tarp are intended for flatbed drivers, but I'd encourage everyone to do it, so you won't have to do it later, should you ever decide to switch to flatbed. Lastly we had to climb 3 steps up a ladder 6 times. I'll admit the physical got my heart pumping a bit, but it wasn't too bad, really.

Next up: file review. That's where you sit down face to face and go over everything, such as criminal history, work history, basically anything they want to question you about. Everything you say better match what you put on your application. If not you better have a good reason for the discrepancy. I don't mean to make it sound worse than it is. It's just that they seem to take honesty very seriously. Better to disclose than to try and explain why you didn't disclose.

Lastly, simulater (SIM) class. The simulaters are pretty cool. You're in a real seat with a real stickshift and real looking controls. One video screen in front of you, and one to each side giving you the feel of sitting in a real cab of a truck. I think it's mostly designed to get you accustomed to the shifting pattern of a Eaton Fuller 10 speed. They do throw some other situations in, such as your offset backing, basic controls, etc. But getting the shifting practice is by far the best benefit, in my opinion.

That's about it for the day. I scattered in some CBT vids when I had a chance. I could stay there till 11, but the nurse said lots of water and REST will help my bp. So I'm gonna follow her orders.

Tomorrow is another day.....

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Turtle wrote:

"Come back tomorrow morning and we'll try again." she says. "What if I can't get it to come down?" I ask. "We'll then we can't give you a medical card." she replied. Oh boy. Now I'm REALLY stressed! But I gotta move on. No time to sweat it.

Good luck with this.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

12/20/16 0630 hrs

Per nurse's orders, I've been very careful what I've eaten and drank LOTS of water. I must've drank 2 gallons since yesterday morning, maybe more. I also tried to get some rest, but it's hard to rest when you have to get up every hour or two to pee, because you drank so much dang water!

So yesterday, we started with 23 students. This morning, only 20 showed up. I don't know what happened, maybe they quit, were asked to leave, were tossed in the dumpster out back, who knows? But at least I made the cut! smile.gif

Anyhoo, the day began at 7:15 with an hours of service class (HOS). They just did an hour long summary of how HOS should be logged, and what to do if you screw something up. The instructor did allow questions, but her goal was just to give us the rundown. It's up to us to learn it. We were also issued a paper logbook , and were instructed on how to use it. We will be using this logbook to log ALL of our time here. Class time is logged as on duty. Lunch/dinner is logged as off duty. Bedtime logged as sleeper berth. This will continue throughout the PSD phase of training later.

0815 hrs. Next up: PSD program review.

Nothing major here, just a review on how things are going, along with a question/answer session. I must say that although this seems to be a very regimented course, the staff here are all very helpful. Any one of them will stop what they're doing to answer a question or point you where you need to go. They WANT you to succeed, and lay out all the tools necessary to accomplish that.

0900hrs Off to the medical office to have my BP taken again. I'm so dang nervous about this. Of all things, I can't let THIS knock me out. Ok, took a deep breath, let it out, and gave her my arm. FAILED again. Same bp as yesterday, no change. They send me away again with instructions to drink even more water. I'm to come back at 1300 or so to try again. So I just keep moving on. Go to get more CBT's done before the next task.

1100hrs Hop on the shuttle to go to the DMV for our permit tests. Even though I don't have my medical card yet, I can still take the test. 6 of us went down there, and sadly only two of us passed. I'm proud to say that because of the High Road Training Program, I was one of the two. The permit was the least concern on my mind.

For those of you who come here in the future, you get 2 chances per test per day to pass. So for example, when you take general knowledge, if you fail it, you get to try again right there. Then you try air brakes and fail it, you try again right then, etc. If that doesn't work out, you can try it again the next day. They WANT you to pass. Study the HRTP and it's a cakewalk, for real. Also, Prime only wants you to get the General knowledge, combination, air-brakes, and tanker endorsements here in Missouri. You can get the other endorsements back in your home state when you switch your license back over. If you study anything, STUDY THOSE FOUR SECTIONS BEFORE COMING HERE!!

Me and the other guy Jack who passed were done so early, we had an hour to kill before the shuttle came back to pick us up. Ironically, he also failed the BP test twice. So we both spent the hour commiserating about this, and walking aimlessly around downtown Springfield, discussing life and high blood pressure lol. Oh, and pounding water also!

1330hrs Back in the medical office yet again. The nurse was very nice. I can't stress enough that these people WANT you to succeed. She had Jack and I lay down (in separate rooms) to relax and meditate for 10-15 minutes before trying again. I thought of my wife, son, and 3 week old first grandchild during this time. I let my nerves get pushed away. The nurse came in, and I didn't even open my eyes or break my train of thought. She took the test and I PASSED!! 184/84. The power of relaxation is real!

G-Town, don't think I didn't notice your comment. Thank you brother for your well wishes, and thanks to all for rooting for me. It means more than you know!

I can't describe the feeling of weight lifted off my shoulders after passing that test. I'm free from all worry now.

The rest of the day was spent finishing my CBT's, as well as doing more SIM lab training, and early to bed. Tomorrow I should have my med card, and can go back to the DMV to pick up my completed permit.

Getting closer, and feeling oh so much better..... good-luck-2.gif

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

Sleeper Berth:

The portion of the tractor behind the seats which acts as the "living space" for the driver. It generally contains a bed (or bunk beds), cabinets, lights, temperature control knobs, and 12 volt plugs for power.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

PSD:

Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Turtle congratulations! Touch and go for a while. Onward and upward.

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