Thursday 24 September 2020

Drivers to be enrolled as crash ‘first responders’

27dfasmallOperators are being invited to enrol selected drivers for training as road accident ‘first responders’ by a former trade union boss.

David Higginbottom, former general secretary of the United Road Transport Union, launched Driver First Assist at the Commercial Vehicle Show. Training each driver will cost an estimated £95, but will count as one module of the Driver CPC.

An assessment and background check follow, and it will then cost around £20 to enroll the driver on the scheme. This fee will include insurance, a mobile phone app, a hi-viz jacket and a first aid kit. Higginbottom (pictured on the DFA stand at the CV Show) said around five people per week were still dying on British roads, and about half could be saved if competent first aid could be administered quickly.

“The target time for an ambulance to arrive is eight minutes from call-out but an obstructed airway will kill in four minutes,” he pointed out.

But Higginbottom emphasised the job was not just about administering first aid. In fact, the first response of the first responder will be to record the details of the accident using the prompts on the phone app and then use this to summon the appropriate emergency services. Only if the situation is safe will they administer basic first aid, but they will remain on the scene to act as a ‘calming influence’ and as first point of contact for the emergency services when they arrive.

Higginbottom said: “Highway Code rule 283 says you must assist if you can at an accident scene.” He pointed out.

“Untrained people are a high risk to themselves and others in this kind of activity. You are at less risk if you have been trained in first aid. “So far as legal liability is concerned, no-one in the UK has been successfully sued for acting as a Samaritan. Trained DFAs will in any case be covered by insurance. But the nearest equivalent really is being a workplace first-aider: the law is specific that such people do not have a ‘duty of care.’

“The road network is arguably the UK’s biggest and most dangerous place of work, yet there are currently no first aiders on it.”

DFA is supported by the police, ambulance and fire services, the NHS, the RHA and FTA and major operators including Gist and TNT. If the scheme is successful in recruiting truck drivers, then Higginbottom hopes to extend it to coach drivers, and those who do high mileages as car or van drivers in the course of their employment.

“We realise that this isn’t for every driver, or even every company, but we would ask every company or depot if they would consider providing one driver,” Higginbottom concludes.

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