USPA Central Region
Safety and Training Advisor Information
Drop Zone Operator Information
The following information for Safety and Training Advisors and Drop Zone Operators in the USPA Central Region has been provided by USPA Central Regional Director Gary Peek since early 2009.
Safety and Training Advisors in the Central Region are expected to be familiar with this information and it can be easily "bookmarked" for reference.
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A tandem pair hit a vehicle, and they both got banged up enough to need to go to the hospital to get checked out, but were fortunately not badly hurt. (I don't know exactly why they landed so close to a vehicle.)
A boogie where it was windy almost the entire event, and most of the tandem jumps were done in high winds. Fortunately the only injury I heard of was to a tandem instructor's new tandem rig. (Dude, was it worth it?)
A tandem instructor died in Michigan when the tandem pair was blown out into a lake because of a storm front moving into the area. Fortunately he got his student unhooked, and the student could swim well enough to get to shore, but for some reason the instructor did not make it.
Folks, you are not going to beat mother nature. She will kick your ass every time that you get complacent and jump when you should not be jumping. Sure, you can get away with it to some extent, but the people involved in the examples above thought they could too.
Please redouble your efforts to make safe(r) skydives by being
conservative about the winds. I think we are just about at the
point in this summer where the wind should be settling down in
general. Until just recently, the winds have been very spring-like,
high and gusty.
I just found out from a DZ that they had been removed from the list of Training Centers and did not realize it, because USPA HQ did not have an email address for the DZ that was appropriate for contacting the DZ about something like that.
It is up to everyone to make sure that USPA HQ has current and appropriate contact info for the DZ, the owner or president, and the Safety and Traning Advisors. In many cases it might be better to use the owner's personal email address than something generic, like email@example.com.
One hint that will tell you whether HQ has your email address is if you are periodically receiving
USPA Update and USP Professional emails, however, the email addresses that they
send these emails to may be different from other email addresses that you give HQ. You need to
manage your emails in order to receive the information you need.
The next USPA BOD meeting is March 22nd-24th 2013 in Daytona Beach, and in conjunction with the PIA Symposium. Usually I send my check-in emails after the meeting, but this year the BOD meeting is late in March.
The "official" USPA Safety Day this year is March 9th, 2013. If having Safety Day on another day works best for your dropzone, then do that. The USPA web site has a page dedicated to Safety Day and has suggested topics for Safety Day.
Instructional Rating Renewal Seminars - I continue to remind everyone that Instructional Rating Renewal Seminars are different from Safety Day recurrency activities. Here is the definition from the SIM: Rating renewal seminar - A meeting of USPA instructional rating holders to exchange information, introduce and discuss new ideas, and to develop, improve, or assure the quality of skydiving instruction. From what I recall, last year I received significant comments from only one Safety and Training Advisor (thank you Glenn Owsiany!) regarding this issue. I will say again: I am interested in hearing from all of you about what topics you have in your seminars. I can collect these topics and publish them here.
Are your instructional rating holders current? Are you sure? Are you sure they will be current thoughout the entire season? I continue to occasionally find instructional rating holders that are not current USPA members and therefore are not a current instructional rating holder. Just think of the liability that you and your DZ assume if there is an incident and it is found that the instructor is not current.
One of the imporatant things that Safety and Training Advisors (and Instructor Examiners) do is to verify and sign off on the renewals of instructional rating holders. Unless you are very familiar with the amount and type of instruction that someone does, I suggest checking their logbook thoroughly. When you sign off on an instructional rating, you are verifying everything, including the date of their Instructional Rating Seminar. If the person you are signing off does not have that date filled in or is struggling to remember when they participated in an Instructional Rating Seminar, then it probably was either not a very memorable seminar, or did not exist.
Now that you have read the latest update (and reviewed all of the information below for changes) you can do your 2013 check-in:
2013 USPA Central Region Safety and Training Advisor Check In
Feel free to send a link to this page to any of your instructors and DZO's, and encourage them to do the check-in too. It is a good review for everyone.
The committee discussed Canopy Piloting Proficiency Card signature authority, as well as who has the authority to approve someone to teach the canopy piloting course for the B license. The committee agreed that Coach and Instructor Examiners should have this authority in addition to S&TAs. The following motion resulted.
Move to change 6-11.D.3 to read: ‘For USPA B-license requirements, a Safety & Training Advisor, Instructor Examiner, Coach Examiner or Board member may approve the canopy piloting course instructor and sign the Canopy Piloting Proficiency Card once the course is completed.’
The USPA BOD meeting was February 17-19 2012 in San Diego. One notable change: It was decided that waivers can be renewed at the time of Group Member renewal by including information about the waivers on the GM renewal form each year. This will of course require coordination with your DZO, and it is still a good idea to discuss waivers with staff at least once a year to determine if they are meeting the needs of your DZ. You should file waivers this year as you have always done to insure they are noted, because the GM renewal form may not include an area for waivers for a while, or you may have already renewed your Group Membership this year.
The "official" USPA Safety Day is March 10th. As usual, if having Safety Day on another day works best for your dropzone, then do that. The USPA web site has suggested topics for Safety Day. Here is a really nice item you may want to include in your Safety Day: EMS Training with Rich Grimm at Skydive Elsinore Rich is a retired firefighter.
Instructional Rating Seminars - Last year about this time I reminded everyone that Instructional Rating Seminars are for the most part different from Safety Day activities. But then I heard from a few of you that said that you very successfully combined them. Great, whatever works for your DZ. I am interested in hearing from some of you about what topics you have in your seminars.
Are your instructional rating holders current? Are you sure? In the middle of last summer I found someone that had not been a current USPA member for 2 months and was therefore not a current instructional rating holder. (This is the second significant lapse I have found in our Region.) Just think of the liability that you and your DZ assume if there is an incident and it is found that the instructor is not current.
Now that you read the latest update you can do your yearly check in:
2012 USPA Central Region Safety and Training Advisor Check In
Time to file Waivers - Waivers need to be filed yearly. Now would be a good time. If you have previously sent a paper copy to me, please send one by email. I will store them here so that we can keep track of them easier. There is information below (and a link to it above) if you need a reminder of how to file a waiver.
The USPA BOD meeting was February 11-13 2011, and was in Reno, NV, followed by the PIA Symposium. Not too much to report from the meeting except for one important BSR change, although it does not really have anything to do with safety. USPA members are now required to adhere to the tandem manufacturer's requirements for age (for the tandem equipment being used.) PIA lobbied the BOD hard for this change.
The "official" USPA Safety Day is March 12th. As usual, if having Safety Day on another day works best for your dropzone, then do that.
Safety Day versus Instructional Rating Seminars - Everyone knows what an Instructional Rating Seminar is don't they? It is a time where dropzone instructional rating holders get together and discuss instruction. However, when I ask many Safety and Training Advisors about their Instructional Rating Seminars, they usually just say, "Oh, we use Safety Day for that."
They are not the same! And "staff meetings", even if they include a number of instructional rating holders, are not Instructional Rating Seminars either. Besides, Safety Day is once a year. Why wouldn't a drop zone want to have an Instructional Rating Seminar several times a year?
Are your instructional rating holders current? Are you sure? I recently discovered a tandem instructor that has been uncurrent (and doing tandems) for over a year because he either did not supply a copy of his current medical along with his renewal, or something happened to it, and he did not check his new card to see if the rating was listed. Seems like a lot of liability for a DZ to have that happen. (There is a little check box on the renewal form for the person signing if off to verify that they have a copy. Are you checking?)
The next USPA BOD meeting is February 19-21. Agendas can be found at Board of Directors.
Some years ago when I was on the Safety and Training committee, I was able to convince the committee to simplify "5-2: Recurrency Training" in the SIM. Before that it was a convoluted mess with too many pieces and was hard to understand (in my opinion).
However, an incident discussed at the last BOD meeting caused some members of the BOD to look at this simplified section of the SIM and believe that it is now not specific enough! So, the Safety and Training agenda for this next BOD meeting includes the following: "Suggested edits to the SIM and IRM, including updates to 5-2 Recurrency" ....
If you like the way this section is now and don't see any need for change, or if you have any suggestions, you will want to contact the Safety and Training committee, Todd Spillers, Chair. firstname.lastname@example.org
From the USPA "DZO Streamline" email July 16th:
"At the most recent USPA Board Meeting, the Board clarified several issues regarding tandem instructor medical requirements, and the Basic Safety Requirements have been changed to reflect those clarifications. Skydiver's Information Manual Section 2-1 C.2. now reads:
"Any skydiver acting as parachutist in command of a tandem jump must possess a current FAA Third Class Medical Certificate, or a medical certificate acceptable to USPA, or, if residing outside of the United States or its territories or possessions, a current aviation medical certificate recognized by the Civil Aviation Authority of the residence country."
The language was clarified to add the word "current" to ensure that it is clear that the medical be renewed when necessary and not just obtained for the initial rating. It also clarifies that the medical certificate must be issued by the FAA, a foreign country's Civil Aviation Authority, or another acceptable authority (currently the only other acceptable certificate is the military aviation medical exam).
"Additionally, to renew a USPA Tandem Instructor rating, the rating holder must send USPA Headquarters a copy of the current FAA Third Class Medical Certificate along with his rating and membership renewal. Any tandem instructor rating renewal submitted without a copy of the medical certificate will be rejected and placed on hold until it is submitted."
Accident Reporting - Once again, accident reporting is poor at best. We aren't going to learn from our mistakes if we don't give people information about them. I understand your reluctance to file a report for legal reasons, but on USPA's web site there is now an on-line reporting form. Enter as much or as little information as you wish (including little enough as to be anonymous), but file a report.
SIM no longer free - As you may be aware of already from the Safety and Training email list, USPA Headquarters, in conjunction with the Chair of the Safety and Training committee, has decided to no longer send Skydivers Information Manuals to current Safety and Training Advisors for free.
Contacting Gary Peek
Note: I am a skydiver. I am at dropzones much of the weekend unless the weather is obviously not jumpable.
3201 Highgate Lane
St. Charles, MO, 63301
email@example.com When at home or the office I check email very often.
Home phone: (636) 946-5272 (This is not a cell phone and does not accept text messages.) My office is in my home. If you want to talk to me for a while, please call my home number so that my office number will not be tied up. The only time I will not answer the home line is if I am on a business call on the office line.
Office phone: (636) 723-4000 or (800) 435-1975 (This is not a cell phone and does not accept text messages.) The best way to reach me quickly is at the office and available at those phone numbers from 9AM to 5PM, but I will answer the office lines any time I am at home.
Office fax: (636) 724-2288 If you fax me something, make sure that it is filled out in a manner that can be read, considering that fax machines have less resolution than printers or scanners.
Contacting USPA Headquarters
United States Parachute Association
5401 Southpointe Centre Boulevard
Fredericksburg, VA 22407
Phone: (540) 604-9470 or (800) 371-USPA
Fax: (540) 604-9741
www.uspa.org The USPA web site has a lot of information on it that you will need, including the online SIM (to tell your students about), parts of the IRM, manuals, forms, info for Safety Day, etc.
If you need something, start there, and if you cannot find what you need, ask USPA Headquarters.
If something is flat out not available then let me know and I'll see if I can get that changed, but please do not ask me for routine documents because I cannot keep track of the latest information, which changes regularly. I will almost surely not have it anyway.
Please take the time to review the Safety and Training Advisor Handbook. (If you have not yet been sent a paper copy you can find it online, minus the license and Pro rating tests and answer sheets to the tests). It contains information mainly about providing guidance in skydiving safety, but many other things as well. It is not an easy job if done well, and never appreciated as much as it should be.
The position of Safety and Training Advisor provides USPA's general membership a local link to our organization, much as a Regional Director provides a regional link to USPA, but this representation is not familiar to most skydivers and is often overlooked and forgotten. Many skydivers do not think of Safety and Training Advisors as a part of USPA, and therefore think that their representatives are not at their drop zone much, but you are.
Each year Regional Directors review the list of Safety and Training Advisors for their region to determine who is still actively performing the duties of an Safety and Training Advisor and who should remain a Safety and Training Advisor.
Safety and Training Advisors are appointed by Regional Directors and their term expires on March 31st. This means that your appointment "officially" expires on March 31st, and you must contact me before then to be re-appointed unless we have made a previous arrangement.
However, I keep the status of the Central Region Safety and Training Advisors very up to date, so most of the time I simply tell headquarters that there is no change needed on March 31st.
The continuing requirements for being an Safety and Training Advisor under my appointment:
The Safety and Training Advisor position is an appointment, and is at the total discretion of the Regional Director. It is not a rating, and when a Regional Director "unappoints" a Safety and Training Advisor or does not re-appoint them, they are not revoking a rating, so please do not feel as though this is taking place.
When visiting drop zones in the past, I have been really lucky if I had a single skydiver mention anything at all about our organization or give me their advice or comments. It's supposed to work better than that but it just doesn't.
When I first became a Director I published (mailed) a number of regular newsletters to Central Region drop zones. When visiting some of these drop zones I asked members what they thought of these newsletters, (which were in some cases attached to a very prominent bulletin board at the dropzone that I could actually see while I was packing). Not a single member that I asked had read one. The internet has improved communication a lot, but members still need to take the initiative to contact their representatives.
That is why the position of Safety and Training Advisor is important, among other reasons. Safety and Training Advisors hear from jumpers at their drop zone every week and have a good idea of what is on their mind. Please pass this information along to me, and when it is of special importance to you or the jumpers at your drop zone, pass it along in writing to me and to the committee Chair responsible for the program or policy.
There is an instructional rating holder email "newsletter" which you should be receiving if USPA has a valid email address for you in the membership database. If you are not receiving this, contact headquarters and update it. Please remind all of your dropzones's instructional rating holders about this too.
Take some time to look around on the USPA web site to see what is now there.
Safety and Training Advisors may waive certain BSR's, period. They do not need to ask permission of anyone, and are not required to fill out a "Waiver Request" form. The Waiver Request form on the USPA web site is for waivers that need to be approved by the BOD, for example, if someone is requesting a "restricted" license.
Unfortunately, the section in the SIM that describes the procedure for waiving BSR's has been changed to say that you need to fill out the "Waiver Request" form. You may do this if you wish, but remember that it is not a "request". USPA headquarters also continues to send emails to us that indicate this to us. USPA Headquarters might at some time create a separate document for BSR's waiverable by Safety and Training Advisors just to make it easier for you to remember what to specify.
To waive a BSR the Safety and Training Advisor simply needs to have reason to believe that safety will not be compromised by the waiver. Some reasons may be that the drop zone has additional procedures in place that make adherence to the BSR unnecessary.
Safety and Training Advisors should create a document (plain text to email is fine), send a copy to the Regional Director (I prefer email), send a copy to USPA headquarters (Safety and Training Director), and keep a copy for the drop zone.
The document should include:
One of the things that I do for many USPA members that I need your help with is signing membership renewal forms, awards applications, and Pro rating applications, and then forwarding them to me or to USPA headquarters.
For forms that must come to me, what I would prefer to get, so I can simply verify the qualifications and then sign, seal, and mail the envelope:
Feel free to scan documents in a resolution suitable for printing, because I may need to print it, apply my signature, and re-scan it to forward to USPA Headquarters. This method works rather well.
We cannot read your signature! There needs to be a way to identify your signature, so this means that you need to sign forms with something other than your signature. I suggest your license number or membership number.
Since application forms are available on the USPA web site I sometimes get applications from members who know only that the Regional Director signature is required. Sometimes they even forget this and send the form to USPA Headquarters with no signature.
Other members do not realize that the Regional Director needs some type of verification of qualifications. If a members has achieved one of the jump number or freefall time awards, please do not just hand them an application or tell them to go to the USPA web site to get an application. Tell them about the process so that they come back to you for verification of the qualifications.
Keep in mind that an Safety and Training Advisor in one USPA Region might be performing functions for a USPA member that jumps at their dropzone, but that lives in another region, and has a different Regional Director. In that case it will become even more important that the Safety and Training Advisor can be identified, and that the member knows to whom to forward the paperwork.
Pro rating applications are a very troublesome area both for Regional Directors and for USPA Headquarters. Some things to watch out for:
Personnel turnover and job re-assignments. If you have a problem and do not get it resolved, you might have someone new in the position you were dealing with, and you might be starting over. No kidding.
People are on the phones continually. If someone does not call you back it might mean that they really are that busy. So don't wait for them to call you! Use the toll-free number and keep calling them. However, some of the staff does not change their voice mail message when out of the office, and it may indicate that they are only away from their desk. If you still cannot contact them after a number of calls, call back and ask the person you talk to if this person is there and when they expect to be available.