Background, People

David Dubuis – a wheelchair-bound Postbus driver

A paraplegic working as a Postbus driver? Yes, it’s true. David Dubuis has been transporting passengers in the Savièse region of Valais for five years. The 40-year-old shares his story with us.

Rich Content Section

A paraplegic who works as a CarPostal driver? It is possible. David Dubuis has been transporting travelers to the Saviese region in Valais for five years. Here, the 40-year-old gives a glimpse of his history. 

David Dubuis approaches the front door of the Postbus in his wheelchair. He doesn’t wait for the driver to help him climb on board because he is the driver. David has been an “incomplete paraplegic” for 11 years – in the case of partial paralysis, the spinal cord isn’t completely severed which means he can stand up and walk a few metres. But he spends 98 percent of his daily routine in his wheelchair. David stands up, skilfully gets onto the Postbus and then hauls up his wheelchair. He attaches it to the bar of the door and climbs into the cockpit. Although the former sports enthusiast’s mobility is severely restricted, he can operate the pedals just as well as his colleagues without disabilities. No vehicle has had to be specially adapted for him, not even his own private car. Working at a 60 percent level of employment, David safely transports Postbus passengers through the Sion–Savièse–Anzère region, and during summer also up the Sanetsch Pass along steep and winding roads.

Seven-hour operation

David Dubuis is a skilled farmer and spent eight years working in various other jobs to gain broader experience. One of these was with a company that looks after the embankments along the sides of roads and railway tracks.  During a shift in November 2011, he fell from a tree and his back landed on the roots. David suffered serious injury and underwent a seven-hour operation at the CHUV hospital in Lausanne. It took him years to get back on his feet – quite literally. Working in farming again would be inconceivable. He is unable to work full time as he needs a lot of time for treatment, training and rest. He suffers constant nerve pain, particularly on the right calf, his heels and in his back.

Accident brought everything to a halt

David lived life to the full before his accident: as well as his physically demanding job, he had a very busy social life and enjoyed doing lots of sport. His accident brought everything to an abrupt halt. “I had to accept my life was now severely restricted,” says David. He lives with partner Jessica and their son in a wheelchair-accessible apartment in Savièse. He loves playing wheelchair basketball.

Working as a Postbus driver gives him some of his mobility back. He gets out and about, has lots of contact with people and is surrounded by the magnificent scenery of his native Valais. David couldn’t ever imagine doing an office job. He got his category D driving licence so he could apply for jobs in the transport sector. He also applied to the local PostBus operator. PostBus didn’t hesitate to give him a job. “David is an outstanding employee who has all the skills and qualifications required,” explains François Comby, the Lower Valais area manager. “Like in all units of Swiss Post, increasing the diversity of our workforce really matters to us. Integrating people with disabilities must become a matter of course.” David doesn’t have any special status in his job. He cleans the vehicle and fits snow chains in exactly the same way as his colleagues.

At the end of the journey, David heaves his wheelchair out of the postbus, gets out, sits down, closes the door and rolls away.

David Dubuis – a wheelchair-bound Postbus driver

Rich Content Section

First mechanic, then Postbus driver

45-year-old Mark Nikollaj worked as a mechanic in a private garage. Like David Dubuis, he had an accident at work. He injured his shoulders and despite two operations, Mark was unable to continue working as a mechanic. Disability insurance covered the cost of retraining as a driver. Since January 2018, he has worked (80 percent level of employment) at the PostBus operator run by Fabia and Maura Marchetti in Airolo. A video shows Mark working as a Postbus driver.

The video in italian language comes from the “Agiamo Insieme” event, a joint initiative of the chamber of commerce, the association of industry, trade and services and the Institute for Social Insurance/Office for Invalidity Insurance in canton Ticino.

Rich Content Section