NewsFranck Poyet, patroller at the Millau Viaduct

Franck Poyet, patroller at the Millau Viaduct

"Reactivity, flexibility and what is related to the human side, the relational ability are the essential skills of a patroller"

Patroller since 15 years at the Millau Viaduct, Franck tells us the story of his job, what inspires him, the highlights of his career...

Franck, you have been a patroller for 15 years at the Millau Viaduct, can you tell us about your career?

I graduated with a Bac Pro Accueil Assistance Conseil Clientèle (vocational diploma in customer service) because my aim was to pass the entrance exams to join the Gendarmerie. For health reasons, I couldn't follow my initial career plan and so, once I graduated, I therefore started working as a temp in the private security industry. A job-search organisation gave me the opportunity to do a job-shadowing day as a patroller in the Eiffage group. As I really enjoyed this experience, I asked for an appointment with the head of department, who informed me that there was no vacancy at that time. Given my commitment to getting the job when the opportunity arose, he advised me to take my trailer driving test. I registered that same evening at a driving school and called the Eiffage manager back a week later to inform him that I had succeeded in obtaining my trailer driving licence!

A few months later, a position of substitute patroller was created to support the team of seven patrollers already working. was more than motivated, flexible and without any ties, so I immediately applied for the job and was accepted. I signed my permanent contract on 30 April 2007.

How inspiring! And what is a patroller's day like?

There isn't really a typical day because we work three shifts, but security is at the heart of our job and involves many different missions, whether it's in the morning (5am-1pm), in the afternoon (1pm-9pm) or at night (9pm-5am). We patrol every two hours (it takes 24 kilometres for a complete patrol in our sector, which extends over six kilometres and is part of the sector of the Direction Interdépartementale des Routes Massif Central (Regional Road Administration). We operate on the highway for breakdowns, objects that drop onto the road, accidents, but also at the toll plaza in winter when the toll supervisor is not on duty at night. We are the ones in charge of marking out the road during the work period, as it is currently the case for the renovation of the paintings on the viaduct deck. We are responsible for the maintenance of the green spaces and for cleaning the sanitary facilities at the toll plaza and the Millau Viaduct rest area. We also manage the viaduct's viability: control and maintenance of accesses, guardrails, windbreaks, water retention basins, etc. Working at night is perhaps my favourite part of the job, which includes patrolling and specific toll operations: maintaining the facilities (garage, toll booth) and the equipment (toll vans and equipment). Winter requires increased surveillance and specific patrols are necessary to meet the weather conditions and the specificities of the viaduct's metal deck.

Do you remember a particularly striking story from your 15 years of experience?

Yes, there is no shortage of experiences... I could write a book! I remember that my adrenaline level was quite high during a night a few years ago when I was called in to secure a perimeter following an accident between drug dealers' vehicles who were driving the wrong way to escape being arrested by a GIGN (the elite police tactical unit of the French National Gendarmerie) armoured vehicle roadblock!

In a less spectacular but extremely moving way, I also remember a lorry driver who had broken down. It took me no more than five minutes to assist him; the driver was very surprised and happy to see me arrive so quickly. This kind of moment makes me feel useful and happy to do this job. The same goes for the thanks we receive on social networks or in person ! It's a real source of motivation!

What do you consider to be the essential skills of a patroller?

I would say: reactivity, flexibility and what is related to the human side, the relational ability, knowing how to be reassuring, to calm things down, to show that you are in charge of the operation. Autonomy is also important and curiosity too. I used to ask a lot of questions in the first five years to find out how best to operate! Knowing the procedures well is also essential, as is having a healthy lifestyle! Sleep is essential, you have to know how to manage it to stay in shape, not to hesitate to take naps at home to compensate with the morning or night work.

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