The Minister of Transport, Mr JS Ndebele MP has announced the launch of a brand new project aimed at equipping taxi drivers with life-saving first aid skills.
This proactive project, spearheaded by the Department of Transport (DoT) was launched at the Netcare 911 School of Emergency and Critical Care (SECC) in Midrand, Johannesburg. The initiative, which is a joint project between the Department of Transport (DoT), Netcare 911 and the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco), seeks to provide taxi drivers with the skills to render effective, first line of care assistance to members of the public involved in medical emergencies while on the road. It is anticipated that the project will be rolled out throughout South Africa.
Taxi drivers often first on the scene
“Taxi drivers are key members of the community who spend a considerable amount of time on South Africa’s roads. They are therefore often the first on the scene of an emergency,” said Minister Ndebele in his address. “By providing our taxi drivers with sound knowledge of first aid they will be in a better position to assist injured and sick people, thereby saving lives.”
“Not only will this represent a valuable service to fellow South Africans and road users in general but it will serve to enhance the overall perceptions of an industry which has often in the past been unfairly tainted.
This initiative, which follows Operation Hlokomela, is an important South African first and will form an integral part of the ‘UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 – 2020’,” commented Minister Ndebele.
According to Tumi Nkosi, Managing Director of Netcare 911, the company was approached by the DoT with the proposal to train taxi drivers in first aid. “The first phase of the project will involve the training of drivers in Western Cape in Level 1 first aid at the Netcare 911 School of Emergency and Critical Care. The initiative will thereafter be rolled out to other provinces.”
Nkosi says Netcare 911 is honoured to be working alongside the DoT and Santaco in bringing this important new project to fruition. Over the last three years Netcare 911 and the Department have been strategic partners in road safety education and awareness during peak traffic periods such as the Christmas and Easter holidays.
“We are grateful that the DoT has again entrusted Netcare 911 with an initiative which is an important first in the history of South Africa.”
Taxi drivers excited about course
Netcare 911’s Operations Director, Peter Feurstein says both the Department and SANTACO nominate drivers for the first aid course. Sunday, 27 May 2012 saw the first group of drivers from around Gauteng was registered at the Netcare 911 School of Emergency and Critical Care.
“The excitement was palpable when the taxi drivers were given a preview of what they could expect from the first aid course. For many it was ‘back to school’ for the first time in well over a decade. A few of the drivers expressed that had they been exposed to first aid skills earlier they would have been able to change a number of lives for the better. This was a touching moment for us all,” added Feurstein.
He said the course covers a range of different subjects, from administering CPR to splinting a broken arm. “In Netcare 911’s experience, individuals who are trained in first aid can improve outcomes because they are aware of what to do and what not to do in an emergency situation,” he continues.
“By way of example, a simple procedure such as the Heimlich Manoeuvre can clear the airway of a person who is choking and save their life. CPR keeps oxygen flowing through the body and to the brain when the heart has stopped pumping. Individuals who have been trained in first aid are able to assist the victims of an emergency until advanced life support emergency medical personnel arrive.”
“Providing the taxi drivers of SANTACO with knowledge of first aid will empower them to act positively in an emergency situation. They will be society’s first line of ‘defence’ within the emergency context. We therefore see the project as an immensely powerful one that will take first aid into the very heart of South Africa’s communities,” concludes Feurstein.
(Press release, May 2012)
The basics of first aid