How to transport a passenger with a wheelchair?
Knowing how to transport a passenger in a wheelchair is very important for a driver who wants to offer a safe and risk-free transfer to his customers.
For some people with mobility difficulties, a wheelchair is an important part of their daily life.
It may happen that a driver comes into contact with a wheelchair user during a service, such as an airport transfer, a holiday or a business trip.
It is useful to be able to assist a wheelchair user to avoid problems and safety risks for the passenger.
Here is how to handle the transfer of a passenger with reduced mobility.
How to plan the transfer of a wheelchair passenger
The first step in managing the transfer of a wheelchair passenger is to communicate with them in advance.
Preliminary contact is useful to obtain information about the size and type of wheelchair, as well as any special needs your customer may have.
The next steps include:
- Preparation of the vehicle
- Securing the wheelchair
- Passenger access to the vehicle
- The customer safety
- Time and communication management
Let’s look at how you can manage each of these steps professionally, reliably and confidently.
Preparation of the vehicle
To safely transport a passenger in a wheelchair, you must ensure that your vehicle meets the necessary conditions for a risk-free journey for your customer.
There are vehicles designed to transport people with disabilities that have ramps, risers or anchors to secure the wheelchair inside the vehicle.
In particular, there are minivans or minibuses that can carry more than one passenger in a wheelchair, which have ramps to facilitate entry and exit.
Of course, each vehicle requires a different procedure for getting in and out.
Securing the wheelchair
If you’re driving a vehicle with direct wheelchair access, you must ensure that the wheelchair is properly secured.
The securing procedure allows you to anchor the wheelchair safely in the vehicle to prevent sudden movements during the journey and to ensure proper passenger transport.
To anchor the wheelchair, you must use special anchoring devices that secure the wheelchair to attachment points located on the floor of the vehicle.
These devices are designed to withstand the forces of acceleration, braking and changes in direction.
In general, the correct position for a wheelchair is towards the front of the vehicle in the direction of travel. If your passenger is travelling in a motorised wheelchair, you must switch off the power supply during transport to prevent possible accidental activation.
In case of non-motorised wheelchairs, we still recommend that you use the brakes, even if they are not sufficient to secure the wheelchair ( which is why it is important to secure it!).
The procedure for a passenger to enter your car or van may vary depending on the type of vehicle. There is a “standard” procedure for assisting a passenger from a wheelchair into a vehicle. Here are the general steps to follow:
- Open the vehicle door and ask your customer to approach the door;
- At this point, check that the wheelchair is secured with the appropriate brakes before moving the passenger into the car in any way;
- Fasten a seat belt around the passenger’s hips. This will increase your safety when you move his from the wheelchair to the car;
- Push the car seat back as far as possible to give the passenger more space to sit;
- Ask your client to sit on the edge of the wheelchair and lean towards you to balance the weight and make the transfer easier;
- Ensure that the client’s hands are on the wheelchair and not on you, so that you are prepared to prevent any falls;
- The passenger can begin to stand up from the wheelchair. In the meantime, you must be ready to lift him/her;
- Turn the passenger towards the open door of your car so that he or she can easily get into the wheelchair.
If, on the other hand, you have a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, you will need to follow a different procedure involving the use of a ramp. Once the passenger has boarded the ramp, you must secure the wheelchair as described in the previous section.
You must then ensure that the wheelchair is stable by anchoring it to the floor of your vehicle using a strap system.
The passenger must also be transported correctly, without any risk: it is therefore important to fit him or her with special safety belts to prevent accidental movements during the journey.
Passenger safety is the priority of every private chauffeur.
You should therefore ensure that you comply with all the regulations relating to the transport of disabled persons and guarantee their safety.
The first thing to do is to check the vehicle: you will have to carry out regular checks to ensure that there are no problems with the anchorage system.
In addition, you need to make sure that your wheelchair is properly secured in the vehicle. Make sure that the passenger is comfortable and protected with adequate seat belts, both in the wheelchair and in the vehicle.
For a pleasant journey, a professional driver must ensure that the passenger feels comfortable in the vehicle throughout the service.
There are some steps that you can follow to make the journey as comfortable as possible:
- Choose your route carefully. Make sure you choose a route that is free of bumpy roads or elements that can shake the car and cause discomfort for your passenger;
- Check space. Check that your passenger has enough space to be comfortable on board;
- Adjust the temperature. Check that the passenger is neither too hot nor too cold during the journey. This can be achieved through good communication, listening and anticipating customer needs;
- Ask if there is a need for a break. You can ask your customer if he/she needs a break or if there are any special needs that you can meet during the journey.
Time and communication management
As we said in the previous paragraphs, communicating with customers and listening to their needs is a prerequisite for becoming a successful private driver.
Therefore, we always advise you to establish a positive exchange with your customer, based on listening and trust.
Ask the passenger if he or she has any special needs, explain your itinerary and accommodate any requests whenever possible.
Advance communication is also essential to manage the transfer: ask the passenger if he or she will be accompanied by a caregiver and if there are any special needs such as additional devices.
However, in terms of time management, you will probably need to allow more time for the service to allow the passenger to board and follow all the procedures for securing the wheelchair.
If you want to learn more about how to manage every aspect of your life as a driver, read on in this blog and join the next LiMO Academy course.