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Call for federal govt to fund first-on-scene training for truckies

Industry bodies say truck driver accident scene training will build the resilience of drivers who may unintentionally find themselves as first on scene


There are calls for the Federal government to fund training for truck drivers who are often the first on scene at horrific traffic accidents in remote and regional Australia.

Western Roads Federation and Northern Territory Road Transport Association (NT RTA) say new industry research has shown that over 70 per cent of truck drivers in remote areas of Australia have been first on scene at vehicle accidents, in many cases more than once.

Nearly 50 per cent of these truckies said they provided first aid and site control for over an hour before medical help arrived.

These statistics are said to back up the findings of the National Road Safety Strategy 2021-30 that identified that 10 per cent of people killed on Australian roads crashed in remote or very remote areas.

NT RTA executive officer Louise Bilato

It also found that the risk to an individual of being killed on a road in these areas is 11 times (the population rate comparison) the risk in a major city.

NT RTA executive officer Louise Bilato, a qualified psychologist, has been providing post-incident counselling to remote area truck drivers for over 30 years. She says the drivers are often traumatised.

‘’I’ve had incidents where drivers have provided first aid at horrific accident scenes for nearly two hours by themselves before professional help arrived. And then they’re expected to just continue to their destination with no support at all,” Bilato adds.

“Obviously this takes its toll when you consider that less than six per cent of truck drivers access mental health services after a serious incident.”

Bilato says a trial training program supported by Perth company TraumaSim has proved successful at helping truckies cope with serious road accidents both during and after the event.

The training program, which is said to be highly realistic, claims to draw on relevant lessons from the Australian Defence Force and a remarkably successful Queensland Police program which won the World Police Safety Award and is reported to have now saved over 90 lives.

The course content includes:

• Personal, site and scene safety procedures
• How-to call-in Emergency Response (when no mobile coverage)
• Stopping the triad of death (hypothermia, acidosis, coagulopathy)
• Simulated scenario with hands on skills practise
• Post Event – Mental Health awareness and services.

TraumaSim managing director, Nola Pearce says the highly realistic trauma simulations work.

‘The anecdotal feedback from Defence over the decade TraumaSim supported pre- deployment training to Afghanistan and Iraq was that the simulations helped participants deliver more effective first aid when it was needed whilst helping to improve post incident mental resilience,’ Pearce says.

Louise Bilato says the answer is clear: “The federal government must fund the training of 1000 truck drivers. This training would see an ‘army’ of truck drivers with excellent first on scene skills. Skills that may help reduce the tragic statistics of remote area vehicle accidents.”

The research hypothesis is that truck drivers who have been required to act as first on scene are more likely to be confident if they have trained for that role and truck drivers who are confident are less likely to be impacted by the event.

The course content is designed to build the resiliency of truck drivers who may unintentionally find themselves as first on scene.

The project, funded by the Heavy Vehicle Industry Safety Initiative, was led by the NT RTA supported by Western Roads Federation.

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