Have a plan before it goes sideways


Truckies are invariably the first on the scene of an accident or incident on the road, and it pays to be prepared, writes veteran driver Mike Williams, as part of our coverage of National Road Safety Week, brought to you by NTI.

After any accident or incident the very first thing to do is ensure everyone’s safety.

Before an accident or incident though, the best thing to do is have a think about the variety of potential emergency situations you may face on the road and plan what your responses will be.

It’s too late to start thinking about what to do when it’s gone side-ways and the pressure is on. Not all emergencies on the road involve an accident. You may have time to respond to what’s happening and take action to reduce the problem and the risk.

You may just as easily be in a situation where your choices are very limited. Much better to have a plan that’s been thought through calmly. Just grab the list and follow the instructions.

Clearly the responses required for all the potential emergencies you may face could fill a good-sized volume and just add to the stress. Drivers operating in the dangerous goods space always have a procedure guide in the driver’s door pocket.

This is the style of document all drivers should aim to have in their hand when they need it. If this happens, do that. Simple.

One of the first things you’ll want to do is get help. There are a couple of apps to consider having on your phone that are extremely useful. The first is the emergency plus app. This app tells you where you are and helps direct emergency services straight to you. It has contact details for State Emergency Services and Police in each state.

The next is the St John Ambulance first aid app. Open the app and you discover a list of problems, match the problem with what you see in front of you, click on that and follow the instructions.

Next is an ICE list. This comes into play if you’re injured or unable to answer questions and it’s as unique as you are. Things on my “In Case of Emergency” list include the contact details for my next of kin and another person that knows me well just in case (remember it is a good idea to let that person know they’re on your list) I also have a brief medical history and doctors contact details.

I keep one list on a sheet in my logbook cover and another in my wallet.

Probably the most likely incident to be involved in on the road is a motor vehicle accident of some kind. If you’re involved in an accident you MUST stop immediately and assist anyone else involved if you’re able to. If anyone is injured dial 000 immediately and follow the operator’s instructions.

Do what you can to make the scene safe without exposing yourself or others to further risk. Switch off the ignitions of vehicles to reduce the risk of fire. Switch on hazard warning lights. Put out warning triangles.

If any vehicle has dangerous goods or if any involved vehicle is LPG fuelled, call 000 immediately. Dangerous Goods vehicles have visible diamond shaped tags and placards on them.

These provide information for emergency services about how to deal with the load in the event of a spill or fire etc. once again, do what you can to reduce risk but don’t expose yourself or others to danger doing so.

Get in a position up wind from any spill, avoid any fumes or spilled product.

The police will attend and investigate accidents when a person is killed or injured, there is damage to property or animals, a person fails to stop, or exchange information, or the driver is believed to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If police don’t attend you must report the accident as soon as possible (within 24 hours unless in exceptional circumstances) if any vehicle needs to be towed away, there is damage to property or injured animals or you’re unable to provide particulars to the owner.

You must provide police with details of an accident, vehicles involved, your name, address and, if known, information about any witnesses or drivers of other vehicles involved. You must also present your driver licence to police on request.

Regardless of damage, if asked, you must provide the owner or driver of any other vehicle involved in an accident with your name, address, licence and insurance details, vehicle registration number and, If you are not the owner, the name and address of the vehicle owner.

There are a number of pre-existing emergency procedures out there in the public domain. There’s no point re-inventing the wheel. Have a search on the internet. It’s amazing what you can find. Search AS 1678.0.0.001 that’s a great place to start. It’s the Australian Standard EMERGENCY PROCEDURE GUIDE for vehicle fires. That’s a double-sided sheet. Print it out, slip it into a plastic cover or laminate it and slide it into your driver’s door pocket.

If you’ve had a look around and can’t find something that considers your particular need then make your own.

Every plan or procedure needs to consider:

1.  Identification of the hazard and risk assessment.

2.  Resources that may be needed to be called in or immediately available.

3.  Communication systems, telephone contacts, dedicated radio channels etc.

4.  Who is responsible for enacting the plan.

5.  Action required to deal with the hazard.

6.  Communication with emergency services and interested others.

7.  Debriefing and review.

There are many consultants who are well qualified to help with the development of procedures. The EPA and government departments have information at their disposal and are generally very happy to assist as well.

Finally save this phone number in your phone. 1800 684 669 grab your phone and do it right now! That’s the NTI accident assist number. It’s available 24/7. They can direct emergency services to you and help you out on the road.

I have used Australian Standards, RMS website and many other public domain resources to produce this article.

I invite anyone to contact me via my social media @theoztrucker on twitter, On The Road Podcast on Facebook or go to www.ontheroadpodcast.com.au to leave a comment, email me directly mike@ontheroadpodcast.com.au or call me on 0450 314 398.

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