Could towers be trained to provide first aid?

By Chris Gerics

Peterborough, Ontario — April 22, 2016 — Tow vehicles and drivers are an important aspect of responding to traffic accidents due to their ability to quickly remove vehicles and debris from an accident scene. But what if they could do more?

Derek Carr, who previously owned his own towing business, Phoenix Towing in Ottawa, has proposed an idea that could change how tow truck drivers respond to car accidents. Carr believes that training certified tow truck drivers in basic rescue and recovery could alleviate the strain on the other authorities, and awarding these trained drivers with specialized green signal lights could allow for easier navigation to accident scenes.

“I think if it was done right it would solve problems. You would have private companies that would have to qualify, just like they do for city contracts, they have to do certain things, they have to be eligible to get those lights. And those people would have to get a criminal background check and all of that,” says Carr.

Allowing specialty towing vehicles to safely and promptly arrive at a scene to provide cleanup and basic rescue could serve to take some of the stress off of authorities, especially in small accident cases. By training with the correct rescue personnel, not only would truck drivers have the knowledge to properly assess and rescue an accident victim but also have proper education on rescue equipment, first aid and CPR training.

Carr has also spoken to the police and fire departments and the feedback has been positive throughout. “Like I said to the fire department, get the cross training. Put in a few years and then maybe volunteer firefighter status to deal with recovery work and then you get a green light. I’ve talked to police, constables on the road about it, they love it, they love the whole idea because you can get to that scene safely and efficiently.”

The idea certainly has its benefits, but is not without its risks, according to Provincial Towing Association of Ontario’s President Joey Gagne. He believes that while more training isn’t a negative thing, it certainly depends on the training.

“I’m all for more training, it’s better to have the knowledge to do something, than not. In terms of training for rescue purposes, the risk of injuring themselves or a victim is too high, with too many variables involved to make sure that they will safely conduct the rescue procedures,” says Gagne. “In the case of some rural tow drivers I know that are volunteer firefighters they would jump at the opportunity, and it might work in very small environments but I think it would be unsafe in a cityscape.”

The need to constantly keep up with skills that are only being utilized a handful of times a month could be detrimental to a rescue procedure.

“If a driver only uses his training every couple of months, or once a year, the risk of something going wrong is increased, and because tow truck operators work a busy schedule they wouldn’t have the time to keep up with the training, which could hinder an accident. I think it’s best if they call 911 and let the authorities handle the accident,” says Gagne.

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