Taxi drivers to receive first aid training

Monday, May 28, 2012

Midrand - Taxi drivers will soon have the first aid skills necessary to save lives and offer assistance to accident victims, thanks to an initiative launched on Monday.

The initiative aims to equip taxi drivers with first aid skills that so that they can offer effective first line care assistance to those involved in medical emergencies on the roads.

It is a joint project by the Department of Transport (DoT), Netcare 911 and the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO).

SANTACO and the DoT have nominated drivers for the first aid course, but there are plans in place to roll out the course nationally.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative in Midrand, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said that the death of about 40 people on the country's roads every day and more than 14 000 a year was a cause for great concern.

He noted that taxis transport more than 65% of public road users and therefore needed to be fully equipped with tools to save lives during crashes.

"In most road crashes, the person who tends to survive is the driver. He or she may be injured but still may be able to move and assist others... this is where first aid comes in," said Ndebele.

Taxi drivers with first aid knowledge would prove to be extremely useful.

"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. 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," the minister added.

Ndebele said after Monday's launch, the intention would be to ensure that all public transport drivers were trained in first aid.

The drivers will be trained by Netcare 911.

Managing Director of Netcare 911, Tumi Nkosi, said the course covered a range of subjects from administering CPR to splintering a broken arm.

"... 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 said.

The course was a proactive attempt to reduce fatalities on South Africa's roads, Nkosi explained.

First aid knowledge would empower taxi drivers to act positively in an emergency situation and also equip them to be society's first line of defence in an emergency context, he added.

SANTACO President Mlayedwa Msiza said first aid courses were important for taxi drivers because it would equip them to be more than mere taxi drivers and spectators in an emergency situation.

He added that it was through practical partnerships such as the one between itself, DoT and Netcare 911 that SANTACO would be able to realise its ambition to delivering a better and more caring taxi service to South Africans.

"Our course towards the reduction of road carnage remains resolute," Msiza added.