My Prime Orientation / PSD Experience

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Dennis L's Comment
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I’m finally sitting in the Oasis Hotel next door to Prime’s Campus Inn / Training Center in Springfield, MO ready to start Orientation bright and early in the morning of 1/31/22.

My background and journey to Prime can been found here:

My Job Search

My wife and I lived in Springfield from 2005-2014. We then moved to Forsyth, near Branson. When I retired in 2016 we bought a second home in Monticello, AR to be near my wife’s daughter and grandchildren. In September 2021 we finally made the full time move to AR. Hated to leave Branson area, but circumstances changed.

So now my diary begins.

Day 0 - 01/30/22

I opted to get a rental for the 307 miles, 6 hrs drive to Orientation. My Prime recruiter offered to reimburse up to $350. Good deal!

Plan A - Enterprise car rental. Whoops, no one-way rentals out of this shop. Okie dokie, on to plan B.

Plan B - U-Haul. I’ve rented U-Haul trucks a lot over the years between Forsyth and Monticello. Just pricey compared to a car.

Placed reservation for a 10’ truck (no pickups available) to pick-up on Friday afternoon. I get a text on Thursday to call U-haul about my reservation. I know what this usually means.

Sure enough, the local dealer does not have a truck. She wants to send me to Crossett for a truck. No way, that is an hour drive. I asked if she had anything closer? She finally found a truck in Warren. Ok, that works only 28 minutes drive.

I get the truck on Friday and decide to take advantage of it to move a load of boxes from my garage to storage. I’ve put that off for two years. So left my wife with a cleaned up garage. She was happy.

The drive to Springfield was very pleasant today. Perfect weather. Enjoy while I can because cold and snow moving into Springfield later this week.

My total cost for truck rental, gas and a short Uber ride to the hotel was $454. If I had a car rental the Prime limit of $350 would have covered 100%.

I thought to link a photo of how I packed for training. I brought a duffle bag (too heavy), a smaller bag that I traveled the world with in my prior life in oil industry to use as truck stop shower bag, my CPAP machine and sleeping bag with a pillow and Crocs cinched to it with a belt.

0803248001643598652.jpg

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.

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.

Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

Definitely following, Dennis !!!!

This is going to be an EXCELLENT diary; for sure. Packing looks perfect, too!

That extra $100 you spent on the UHaul got a 2 year old chore taken care of; look at it that way!

Best wishes & blessings on your journey, good sir.

~ Anne & Tom ~

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Dennis L's Comment
member avatar

Day 1 - 01/31/22

05:30 came early. I went by the Orientation check-in room for my group about 06:00, told to come back at 7:00.

There are 85 people at this Orientation and another 85 coming for Wednesday.

We were divided into four groups for checking in. There were 26 in my group. We were later divided into four smaller groups for today and tomorrow’s scheduled activities.

The office is short staffed now due to Covid, but it all seemed to run well.

Check-in lasted 1.5 hours. > confirmed our attendance and filled out a safety form including safety vest size. > made copies of 3 ID docs including state DL, CLP and one of US Passport, birth certificate or green card. > Chef handed out meal cards. > Security Director gave a briefing. > FMCSA drug & alcohol report to Prime verification.

Next was application and medical file review. It lasted 2.5 hrs for me because I was way back in the line. Actual interview lasted 5-10 minutes.

Good news is that I don’t need to take Prime’s DOT Medical. They accepted my current DOT card good until next November. This is a big relief to me.

After a 30 minute lunch I started working on the 44 CBT (computer based training) modules that are due by midnight Tuesday night. I completed 22 in 3.5 hours today, so set up well to finish Tuesday morning. Got a bad case of TB.

Simulator Driver Training (Sim Lab) session 1 for my group was from 15:45-17:45 today. Included a 1.5 hr PowerPoint presentation followed by a 15 min simulator test drive. There are 8 simulators that cost $150k each.

Back to the hotel to relax after dinner tonight. My Sim Lab exam tomorrow is from 16:30-21:00.

I’m told that I’ll be changing hotels on Wednesday. Oh well.

A major winter storm is moving in with rain on Tuesday, freezing rain on Wednesday and snow for Thursday. This will be fun!

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

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.

Fm:

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.

CLP:

Commercial Learner's Permit

Before getting their CDL, commercial drivers will receive their commercial learner's permit (CLP) upon passing the written portion of the CDL exam. They will not have to retake the written exam to get their CDL.

Dennis L's Comment
member avatar

An addendum to my actions required prior to travel to Sprimo.

I received my invitation to Orientation on 1/17/22. My recruiter called and we went over a couple required tasks.

First he scheduled a DOT drug test at a local provider. I had until 1/30/22 to complete. I made appointment for 1/19/22 to give urine sample that was sent to Quest Diagnostics in K.C. MO. Note that Prime does not do hair testing. To date no news is good news on the results.

Second was to contact Heather with Cardinal Sleep, the clinic that does Prime’s sleep testing. Heather asked me to email her the latest 30-days compliance report from my CPAP machine. Prime requires at least 70% compliance with daily use. My report is 100% compliant.

I’ll update Day 2 later, I’m in the CBT lab since 05:30 doing CBT’s.

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.

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.

Dennis L's Comment
member avatar

Day 2 - 02/01/22

Arrived to CBT lab at 05:30 to resume work on the remaining 22 CBT’s. Completed 4 by 06:35.

07:00 - roll call for groups A&B. 19 on time, one showed up late and was asked to return at 08:00 with groups C&D.

A schedule update was announced for a Driver Health & Fitness presentation at 11:00.

Instructor announced that 7 people had completed 100% of CBT’s by 06:00 today. These folks ended up being cleared for badging by noon. One was referred for a sleep study.

We completed a Student / Trainer compatibility survey before being released to work on CBT.

07:48 - 10:20 I completed my final 18 CBT. Done!

11:00 - 11:45 Driver Health & Fitness presentation. This sounds like a good program to promote better health for drivers on the road.

Some people were sitting near me while I’m typing this complaining about being moved from Oasis Hotel tomorrow and why badging clearance was taking so long for them. I just stayed out of it. Going with the flow.

I’ve got 5 hours until my Sim Lab exam. Starting to study the pre-trip inspection study guide and Prime’s video.

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

Dennis L's Comment
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My pre-trip study got interrupted by a message to bring my medical exam long form back to orientation office. So rushed to hotel to get it. Turned out she had missed copying the second page yesterday. Ok, not bad.

I mentioned to her about my CPAP compliance report emailed to Cardinal Sleep before I came here. She asked if I’d signed a monitoring contract? I said “what?”

So back to talk with the lady running the orientation. She had forgot about it yesterday to ask if anyone had a CPAP. So now I have to shuttle in morning to the Millennium building to Cardinal Sleep office so they can physically download my compliance report and sign a monitoring contract.

I’ll do that after I check out of hotel to leave my bags in hallway by Campus Inn desk.

Hopefully the shuttle is running in morning with the bad weather.

Nothing scheduled on agenda until 13:00 anyway.

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.

Dennis L's Comment
member avatar

Last entry for Day 2.

I passed the Sim Lab assessment.

Takeaways are to try aiming a little higher in steering, had a hard break situation to avoid hitting a car crash in front of me. Could have changed lanes sooner if reacted quicker.

Also to let my turn signal be on a little longer before changing lane. This is a bad habit in my car. So got to work on it.

Anyway, tomorrow is another day.

Dennis L's Comment
member avatar

Day 3 - 02/02/2022

Up at 06:30. Packed my bags and made the trek from Oasis to Campus Inn. It was 22F and sleeting. A little slick.

Checked in at front desk a little past 07:00 to get new hotel assignment. We were told to vacate Oasis by 09:00, so trying to be the early bird here for room assignment.

Stored my bags in the hallway, grabbed my CPAP and caught a shuttle to Millennium Building. Truckin’ Along With Kearsey’s videos don’t do it justice.

Arrived at Cardinal Sleep at 07:40, they open at 08:00. “Early is good, on time is late!” Took care of registering my CPAP machine for weekly downloads of my compliance to be reported to Safety Dept & Medical. Compliance is >4 hrs use per day 70% of the time. I was at 97% for last 30 days. Cost is $2.50/wk deducted from paycheck.

Caught shuttle at 08:37 back to Campus Inn. Stopped in cafe for breakfast at 08:48. Met “Bill”, an old timer from flatbed division. He is an inspiration to still be going at his age. First time that I’ve felt “young” this week.

It’s 10:27 now. So, free time until 13:00 Training Program Review. Will study pre-trip.

Watching phone for two messages: 1. Cleared to be badged and 2: Hotel assignment.

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.

Dennis L's Comment
member avatar

Day 3 continues

11:00 - I was cleared and issued my COMDATA ID badge and safety vest. Will get a Driver Code tomorrow. Yes, made it through Orientation!

Prime offers a $200 per week interest free loan for meals and supplies during PSD training via the COMDATA card. The free meals will end after Sunday. The loan is paid back in $25 / wk installments. You don’t have to use it if you have other funds.

Now just need a hotel room.

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.
Dennis L's Comment
member avatar

Day 3 wrap up

13:00-13:45 Training Program Review Went over our training program agenda through the weekend and next week, if not picked up by a driver trainer this weekend.

Because of the snow moving in here this evening and tomorrow, the Plaza training pad will be closed on Thursday (Day 4). So both the Monday & Wednesday classes (~165 people) will report to the Plaza on Friday (Day 5) at 13:00. So, get an early shuttle to arrive by 12:45. There are 4 shuttles, seating 15 passengers each, running the route every 15 minutes.

I got a new room assignment in the Campus Inn for two nights until Friday morning. Then see what happens next.

Oh well, Welcome to trucking.

A tip regarding my packing of a pillow cinched to a sleeping bag. I suggest from experience today to put it inside a 13 gal kitchen trash bag to keep it dry and clean. I improvised today using a cheap $1.00 rain poncho to keep it dry walking through the sleet.

An observation from visiting Prime’s Plaza and Millennium Terminal yards for first time today is that there are a lot of truck tractors and trailers sitting. Assets sitting are not generating revenue.

Day 4 - 02/03/22

Weather Delay - Snow. Shutdown, rest up and study pre-trip inspections.

I won’t update again until after Day 5 on Friday (02-04-22).

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

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.

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