New DFA course aims to cut road traffic deaths

By Categories: Commercial NewsPublished On: Thursday 27 June 2024

David Higginbottom, CEO of Driver First Assist, cites the fact that deaths from blocked airways often occur in about four minutes, whereas the target time for an ambulance to arrive (if the call is life-threatening) is eight minutes

Road safety training organisation Driver First Assist (DFA) has launched Skills for Safer Journeys – a new online training course which it says could dramatically improve safety for the millions of public and private sector employees who regularly drive for work, including HGV drivers.

With more deaths occurring from at-work road travel than in the workplace itself, Driver First Assist believes its new initiative will give all drivers crucial skills to support at the scene of an on-road incident, regardless of the type of vehicle they drive.

The 90-minute online course – which can be completed in stages – teaches participants how to make critical decisions using the principles of dynamic risk assessment, safely park at the scene of an incident, gather crucial information for the emergency services, make the perfect 999 call, and provide first-aid assistance prior to the arrival of paramedics.

Mick Doe, operations director (transport) for GXO Logistics, and one of the first to complete the course, says: “At GXO, the safety of colleagues is our number one priority and that doesn’t just stop within the workplace. It is crucial when driving to and from work that people recognise the dangers and have the skills to be able to make the right decisions to help save lives. This course taught me a huge amount and without doubt I’m safer on the roads because of it.”

Driver First Assist CEO David Higginbottom explained: “Last year there were 1,633 fatalities from road collisions in Great Britain… In too many cases, the victims didn’t die because of the collision; they died as the first people on scene didn’t know what to do.

“We want to help employers meet their health and safety obligations by giving drivers the skills they need to be safer on the road. Health and safety law does not end at the factory or warehouse gate; when someone drives for work the roads become an extension of the workplace, even if they are driving a personal vehicle for business purposes.”

Supporting the launch, Sir Keith Porter, emeritus professor of traumatology at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, commented: “We know many patients die at the scene of road traffic collisions because of a failure to open an airway, or to arrest external haemorrhage. “The Driver First Assist course will empower drivers to deliver life-saving skills, helping to keep a patient alive in those valuable minutes before the ambulance arrives. This course also gives drivers the confidence to ensure they fully appreciate the importance of scene safety and good communication with the emergency services. The more first responders we have, the better. Could that be you?”

Driver First Assist cites a World Health Organization report on road traffic injury prevention, which found that within high-income countries, 50 per cent of deaths from road traffic crashes occur within minutes of the incident occurring. It pointed out those who are present or who arrive first at the scene of a crash can play an important role in contacting the emergency services, securing the scene to prevent further incidents, and applying first aid. It found many deaths from airway obstruction or external haemorrhage could have been avoided by lay bystanders trained in first aid.

Death from a blocked airway typically occurs in about four minutes, the training provider points out, whilst NHS England’s target time for an ambulance to arrive if the call is life threatening is eight minutes.

Paul Loughlin, Partner and motoring and transport specialist at national law firm Stephensons, said: “Skills for Safer Journeys is an invaluable tool which enhances driver safety and contributes significantly to any fleet operations’ safety regime. It helps bridge the compliance gap so often found between the ‘on-road’ and ‘off-road’ workforce.”

Higginbottom concluded: “Drivers injured or falling ill on the road should not experience worse outcomes than their non-mobile counterparts. Our vision is to turn hundreds of thousands of drivers on UK roads into qualified first responders.”

Driver First Assist has been established for more than a decade, delivering face-to-face first aid training to more than 10,000 HGV drivers as part of their Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) periodic training requirements. Since 2017, Driver First Assist has also been responsible for training all National Highways Traffic Officers in lifesaving first aid.

www.driverfirstassist.org