911 Call Home!
The first thing to do is to find a safe place to pull off the road and park. You wonâ€™t be paying attention to your driving because your mind will be overloaded with trying to process the worrisome news. Stop the truck before you cause a second tragedy.
The choice of how and when to get home after a personal emergency is ultimately up to the driver. But carriers say that they are ready to assist a driver in distress by offering advice and logistical help.
Carriers have various ways of helping and making sure both the driver and the load get taken care of. They can quickly adapt their everyday policies to meet an emergency. John Mueller is the Director of Safety and Recruiting for Toledo, Ohio-based Premium Transportation Logistics. He says, â€œIn the case of a driver under load who has an emergency arise at home, we would try to get the freight transferred and get the driver home ASAP. If we had to, we would call the shipper or the consignee to let them know the load will be delayed. Obviously, we would do everything we can to help the driver, depending on the situation.â€
â€œLetâ€™s say heâ€™s five hundred miles from the house, it would take him ten hours to drive there. The best option would probably be to transfer the freight, secure the truck somewhere and have the other driver or a cab get him to the airport for a flight home.â€
Jeff Garra of Panther Expedite says that in the case of a driver with a home emergency, â€œwe understand that the driver wants to get back as soon as he can. For our part, the first thing to do is secure the freight, then communicate with the customer and explain the nature of the emergency. Weâ€™re all human beings and theyâ€™re normally pretty understanding. We then need to find another truck to transfer the freight. We can help the driver get on his way back home.â€
Youâ€™ll never know how youâ€™ll respond to personal catastrophe until it comes. The experts in these matters say that itâ€™s best to meet the unknown with a planned response, so discuss this issue with those closest to you.
Consider how you would want to be notified of traumatic news. Is it best to have family or friends call or would you prefer to be informed by clergy?
An important component of your plan should be to learn your carrierâ€™s policy for drivers who are on the road when a crisis happens at home. Know what to expect from them and what their typical response(s) might be. This will assist you in developing contingency plans to help you get back home.
In all cases, communication is key. Communication with the folks back home and communication with your carrier who will assist you in any way they can.
What about an emergency on the road? What if you are taken ill a great distance from home and family?
John Mueller says that he has experienced such a case: â€œWe had a driver on the road who thought he was having a heart attack and we had to call an ambulance and the police to care for him.â€
â€œAn extreme example would be when I was with a truckload carrier. We had a driver who had a stroke while on the road. Instead of remaining in the hospital, he was so insistent on driving the truck back, that after he returned, he lapsed into a coma and two weeks later he was dead.â€
He adds, â€œThe bottom line is, yes, we haul expedited, red-hot freight and sometimes itâ€™s a plant shutdown-type of emergency - but is it worth someoneâ€™s life? No. Human beings have to take priority over freight, no matter what it is.â€
What about the driver who, through illness or injury, is stranded on the road, hundreds or even thousands of miles from home?
TransAlive USA is an organization designed to meet the needs of drivers and their families when they experience an accident, illness, heart attack or even death on the highway.
Founded in 1975 by Bob Hataway, the organization has grown to 100,000 volunteers in the U.S. Over 130 companies representing over 250,000 drivers use his services to assist their drivers and their families.
Author Sean Kelley profiled a Transalive service called AmCoach in an article titled, â€œThe Rescuersâ€: Drivers who are left stranded on the road after an accident or illness can now call on AmCoach, a one-bus charity service that transports home drivers too ill to be moved sitting up.
The idea for AmCoach began several years ago when Florida-based carrier HL Stansel approached Hataway. The carrier had a driver ill and on the road in Calgary, Alberta. Hataway researched ways to get the driver home, but all the options were very expensive. He began looking for affordable ways of transporting drivers.
â€œâ€˜Weâ€™re in transportation,â€™ I said. â€˜We can do this by bus just as well as plane, and we can go door-to-door,â€™â€ he says. With some corporate backing and lots of equipment donations, Hataway refurbished a bus shell, and AmCoach was born.
The project is funded entirely with contributions from companies and individuals. For instance, Speedco provides all oil changes for the bus, and Pilot pays for the fuel. Other companies like Alcoa, Cummins, and Detroit Diesel have made equipment donations, and fleets like US Xpress, Werner Enterprises and JB Hunt have given money. AmCoach has a private bedroom with an adjustable bed. The bus can sleep up to eight, including the Hataways, and has a shower, kitchenette, lounge area and luggage bay.
The 40-foot Eagle Bus is decorated in red, white and blue, and has an eagle soaring down its side. The motif, which was wrapped on the bus in November 2000, proved appropriate when Bob and Carol took the bus to New York City to help with relief efforts following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The couple gave out coffee and work gloves to the hundreds of truck drivers hauling debris from the World Trade Center site.
The Hataways donâ€™t ask families or companies to pay for anything. In fact, the last driver the couple helped was suffering from heart failure and had just started a new job. He couldnâ€™t even borrow $25 to pay for food on the journey. So the Hataways shared their food with him on the bus.
For more information on TransAlive USA, call (800) USA-HURT or go to www.transalive.com