Commercial Drivers Learn to Save Lives

Commercial Drivers Learn to Save Lives
A UK safety programs trains commercial vehicle drivers to provide life-saving first aid to keep people alive until medical services personnel can get the scene.

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About half of the traffic accident deaths in the United Kingdom occur before an ambulance arrives. Having first aid available quicker could prevent many of those, according to a new UK program that trains commercial vehicle drivers to provide life-saving first aid to keep people alive until medical services personnel can get the scene. 

Driver First Assist was formed in April 2013 with the support of the national ambulance, police, and fire chief associations and the UK Traffic Commissioners. Private companies and other agencies are also being recruited to help sponsor the non-profit organization. 

DFA was the brainchild of former truck driver David Higginbottom, the business development director at the Road Transport Industry Training Board and General Secretary of the United Road Transport Union. In announcing the program, Higginbottom said in a news release, “We believe we have an effective strategy to train a significant number of drivers, starting with HGV (heavy goods vehicle) drivers, but moving on to include van, car fleet, and bus and coach drivers over time. These are the drivers out there on the roads where accidents happen and as such are best placed to offer immediate assistance.” 

The initial training course costs about $150 (£95). Drivers are taught first aid skills, such as hands-only CPR, they can use if they come across a bad traffic accident. They are also trained in accident scene management procedures so that they can brief emergency responders as they are traveling to the scene and assist them when they arrive. “Simple first aid techniques could do much to reduce casualties, while the emergency services own ability to perform would be dramatically enhanced by receiving an onsite situation report the moment they arrive on scene,” added Higginbottom. 

Upon completion of the seven-hour course, drivers apply for a $40 (£25) three-year membership in Driver First Assist. The program provides members with a high visibility vest, first aid kit, a lapel badge, and – probably most important – indemnity insurance. Members also get refresher training. 

According to DFA, up to 85 percent of deaths that occur before an ambulance arrives are due to airway obstruction; deaths that could be prevented with proper first aid treatment. While death occurs in about four minutes in such cases, the average response time for ambulances in the UK is eight minutes. 

Along with saving lives, Driver First Assist is also intended to help get roads open quicker following accidents, with is a national initiative of the UK Department of Transportation, and to improve the image of the transportation industry. 

DFA hopes to train some 30,000 drivers in the first five years. For more information, visit

How could a program like Driver First Assist be beneficial in the U.S.? Post a comment below.


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