Fleet News

Initiative aims to give employees the skills to manage the scene of a traffic collision

Fleets are being urged to sign up to a new initiative which could cut road deaths by almost 50%.

The scheme, Driver First Assist (DFA), aims to equip company car and van drivers with the skills to manage the scene of a road traffic collision (RTC) and deliver life-saving first aid prior to the arrival of the emergency services.

On average, five people are killed on the UK’s roads each day, with figures from the Department for Transport revealing that 1,754 people died last year.

However, it’s estimated that 46% of fatalities could be prevented if first aid assistance was available early at the scene of an RTC.

Up to 85% of these deaths may be due to airway obstruction. Death from a blocked airway occurs in about four minutes, while the target time for an ambulance to arrive at an incident is about eight minutes.

David Higginbottom, founder of DFA and former general secretary of the United Road Transport Union, said: “The DFA approach is focused on how we can improve the response to an RTC, rather than focusing on collision prevention.”

The initiative is being supported by police through the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the fire service through the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) and the ambulance service through the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE). 

DFA is also supported by the NHS and Britain’s senior traffic commissioner Beverley Bell.

The emergency services have helped shape the day-long course for drivers, which includes training on managing the scene, identifying the hazards and assessing the risk, as well as delivering life-saving first aid such as hands-only CPR.

PC Steve Rounds, who is a trainer with the Central Motorway Police Group, linked up with Higginbottom to develop DFA and help create course content.

He said: “Some drivers stop and try and do the right thing; their intentions are good, but they get it wrong.

“DFA is about looking at what the emergency services want drivers to do and putting some structure around it so that they will act the same as a police, fire or ambulance officer would do at the scene.”

Higginbottom added: “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 on-site situation report the moment they arrive on scene.”

DFA has been set up as a not-for-profit organisation, supported by national business law firm and primary sponsor DWF.

The seven-hour training course, which includes an examination drivers have to pass, costs £95. Once qualified, they can then apply to become a member of DFA after paying a £25 fee, for which they receive a tool kit and indemnity insurance. The training is valid for three years.

Higginbottom’s aim is to have 30,000 DFA drivers on UK roads within the next five years. He said: “The appeal to companies to train at least one DFA member per workplace should result in those volunteers setting us on course to reducing RTC fatalities by almost 50%.

“Perhaps it is now time to look for opportunities that can result not in marginal gains, but in quantum leaps.”
AACE welcomed the initiative and said it was looking forward to working with DFA to ensure the highest standard of first aid training is provided.

Dr Anthony Marsh, AACE chairman and CEO of West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said: “By providing drivers, who are often first to witness or come across such incidents, with basic life support training and the knowledge to know what to do will ultimately mean patients get the care they need while emergency help is en route.”

Further information on the campaign and course availability can be found at www.driverfirstassist.org.

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