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Empowering truckies as first responders

When a road accident occurs in a regional or remote area, truckies are quite often the first on the scene. But if faced with an emergency situation, would you know what to do and how to best respond?

The NT Road Transport Association (NTRTA) and Western Roads Federation (WRF) recently ran a first response training pilot program and have now launched a truckie survey to help quantify the anecdotal evidence that nearly half of all regional and remote area truck drivers will be first responders at accidents during their careers.

It’s hoped that the survey will provide concrete data that can be used to support the NTRTA and WRF in their efforts to offer a funded national rollout of the program.

“The survey will help us get a better handle on the proportion of the truck driving population that have been first responders at the scene of a road accident, including how they dealt with it and if they were confident in dealing with the situation,” explained NTRTA executive officer Louise Bilato.

The pilot involved five training sessions, held in Darwin, Alice Springs, Port Hedland, Perth and Brisbane.

“Truck drivers spend most of their work time on the road and yet there is no Australian data on the numbers of truck drivers who have been first responders. Because there have been no studies on the subject, we do not know how truck drivers who have found themselves in that situation coped at the time.

“Nor do we know how they may have been impacted by their experience as a first responder later on. Most of what we know is anecdotal, but the fact of the matter is that a portion of our truck drivers, especially those working in remote and regional Australia do provide critical care and assistance at road crashes at some time in their career.”

Funded under the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative, the pilot program involved five training sessions held in Darwin, Alice Springs, Port Hedland, Perth and Brisbane, each with 10-15 truckies in attendance.

Bilato says the program was very well received by all involved. “The training for truck drivers was very specific and their feedback has been phenomenal. We employed Real Response, a company that deals with these sorts of scenarios, to deliver the training, which included relevant information on managing bleeds, such as how to tie a neck bleed, packing wounds and how to check for broken ribs or a collapsed lung.

“The course teaches participants how to correctly fit a tourniquet and how to make a tourniquet if you are forced to improvise on the side of the road to save a life. It teaches how to provide immediate care, including haemorrhage control, with the primary goal to keep people alive until professional help arrives,” she said.

“Preparation and training for traumatic events can substantially modify the emotional impact of the trauma and protect individuals from developing psychological symptoms. The program is short, sharp and to the point, teaching practical skills. We’re hoping the program can better equip truck drivers and improve resilience if they happen to be the first responder at the scene of an accident. The more information we can get from the broader trucking community through our survey, the better.”

Participation in the ‘Truck Driver – First Responder Survey’ is confidential, with results to be used in helping to make a case to push for funding of a national first responder program for truckies. To access the survey, click here.

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