Award Winner-Upper Cumberland HRA

  • Author | Halie Gallik
  • 9/3/2021 4:00 pm

Middle TN Excellence in Risk Management Award Winner - Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency - Transportation Department

The Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency (UCHRA) strives to improve the quality of life for citizens in 14 counties throughout the Cumberland region. They offer a diverse array of community services, including weatherization assistance, community corrections, Head Start, youth programs and public transit.

The public transit service consists of a 115-vehicle fleet that provides more than 250,000 trips per year for regional residents, representing more than 2.36 million miles driven to get passengers where they need to go. One of the largest exposures for public transit is transportation of the medically fragile. Properly securing wheelchairs and operating wheelchair lifts is one of the most important responsibilities of public transit, and can have significant consequences in the event of an accident.

In the fall of 2020, UCHRA experienced several incidents where drivers mistakenly wheeled passengers off the back of a vehicle lift. Holly Mantooth, UCHRA’s transportation director, shared, “One incident of this nature is one too many, and we made a commitment to solving the problem.”

A solution was found after much research and discussion with other human resource agencies: a wheelchair safety restraint. This restraint creates a barrier where the wheelchair cannot roll off the lift until it has been securely lowered to the ground. 

UCHRA utilized funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act and was able to move quickly to equip its entire fleet with the wheelchair safety restraints. The restraints can be removed and added on to new vehicles when necessary, giving UCHRA many years of usefulness for their investment.

“The wheelchair safety restraints require no new procedures for our drivers, which has been a huge benefit for them,” Mantooth said. “Our drivers have enough to do and keep track of during their shifts. They have been very appreciative of how user-friendly the devices have been. Our drivers have a passion for what they do, and they’ve told us about the added peace of mind these restraints afford them and our clients.”

Since the restraints have been installed, no wheelchair accidents have been reported. The foundation for successful risk management is identifying exposures and actively working to address them. The UCHRA has done just that with its transportation program.

The Upper Cumberland Human Resource Authority is presented with the Excellence in Risk Management Award for its wheelchair safety restraint program.