Growing up, I was always taught I could count on a truck driver for help in any emergency on the road. I certainly found this to be true a while ago.
While travelling on the 403 between Hamilton and Brantford, I got a flat tire. However, I was not concerned. I have changed many tires over the years. As a source of independent female pride, just a couple of years before, I changed a tire on the shoulder of the 407 on my way in to work and was still able to get there on time with no dirt on my business suit.
Unfortunately, managing this recent tire experience was not so simple. Since the cable that held the spare under the back of the van had rusted, my tire would not come down.
After crawling under the van a number of times to try and jiggle the tire loose, I finally gave up. Did I mention that my cell phone was dead?
So there I was, stranded by the side of the road, wearing dress shoes, anticipating at least a half-hour walk to a gas station. Fortunately, a kind truck driver stopped and let me use his phone. Then when I couldn’t get a response from home, the driver gave me a lift into Brantford. He was my hero.
Besides helping with breakdowns, truck drivers are also well known to assist at accidents and other emergency situations. Likely you have taken First Aid courses throughout the years to practice using the supplies in the kit in your rig, including: splints, pressure bandages, slings and dressings.
On the other hand, deciding what action to take with less obvious but more serious health concerns may be a bit more challenging. Let’s look at how to identify three common emergency health conditions, and how to best manage them if you’re the first on scene, after you call 911.
Heart attack: A person having a heart attack will complain of uncomfortable pressure, fullness or squeezing pain in the center of the chest that has lasted more than a few minutes.
This pain could spread to the shoulders, neck or arms. As well, the person may experience lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea and/or shortness of breath.
To help, loosen all tight clothing, especially around the person’s neck and chest. Give aspirin (unless allergic to ASA). Give nitroglycerin if prescribed. Raise the person’s feet to aid the blood return to the heart. Observe the environment to find a flat, hard surface on which to perform CPR if necessary if the person’s condition deteriorates.
Stroke: A person having a stroke may show: weakness or numbness on one side of the body including either leg; dimness, blurring or loss of vision, particularly in one eye; severe headache with no apparent cause; or an unexplained dizziness, unsteadiness or a sudden fall, especially if accompanied by any of the other signs or symptoms.
To help this person, use the FAST method to help check for these warning signs.
Face: Does the face droop on one side when trying to smile? Arms: Is one arm lower when trying to raise both arms? Speech: Can a simple sentence be repeated? Is speech slurred or strange? Time: Every minute counts. If the person shows any of these signs, seek help immediately.
Shock: This can be caused by many things, including trauma, heatstroke, blood loss, an allergic reaction, severe infection, poisoning, and severe burns.
Shock is serious. Because when a person is in shock, his or her organs aren’t getting enough blood or oxygen, if untreated, shock can lead to permanent organ damage or death.
A person in shock can have these various signs and symptoms: Cool and clammy, pale or grey skin; weak and rapid pulse; slow and shallow breathing, or hyperventilation (rapid or deep breathing); below normal blood pressure; nausea or vomiting; dull, staring eyes; and/or, dilated pupils.
A person in shock may be conscious or unconscious. If conscious, the person may feel faint or be very weak or confused. Oppositely, sometimes a person may become overly excited and anxious.
If you suspect someone is in shock, even if this person seems normal after an injury, have the person lie down on his or her back with feet about a foot higher than the head; however, not if this will cause pain or further injury.
Keep the person still. Check for signs of circulation (breathing, coughing or movement). If absent, begin CPR.
Keep the person warm and comfortable. Loosen all belts and tight clothing and cover the person with a blanket. Even if the person complains of being thirsty, give nothing by mouth.
With all the rigs on the road everywhere, every day, it is comforting to know that from coast to coast, help is always at hand. Kudos to you and thank you, truckers.