“From our experience in previous years, we know that this is an especially busy time on our roads and this, unfortunately, often leads to an increase in the number of tragic road accidents,” says Shalen Ramduth, Netcare 911’s director: business development and support services.
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Netcare 911 has bolstered its resources with ambulances, advanced life support response vehicles and emergency care practitioners along the N3 highway between Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal during this busy holiday period. It is hoped that in addition to being ready to provide prompt emergency medical and rescue assistance to the public where needed, the high-visibility of the Netcare 911 team will help to keep road safety top-of-mind among road users.
“Every motorist has a role to play in helping to make South Africa’s roads safer over this time by following reasonable safety precautions and displaying courteous driving behaviour. If we all take a few simple measures when travelling, it is possible to reduce the number of accidents and ensure that more people reach their destinations without incident and return safely after their holidays.”
Two major contributors to road accidents are driver fatigue and drunk driving, which are preventable.
“Drivers need to be mentally alert and in good physical condition when embarking on a road trip, and stop at least every two hours for a break to refresh themselves so that they do not become fatigued, which can impair driving ability,” Ramduth advises.
“Drinking and driving is highly irresponsible and we urge the public not to drive while intoxicated or travel with a driver who is under the influence.
“One of the most dangerous things about alcohol is that it can stimulate people to take unnecessary risks without them realising that their judgment and coordination are impaired. Alcohol often creates a sense of confidence, so that people under the influence mistakenly believe that they are fully in control and able to drive.”
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Ramduth urges drivers to ensure that their vehicle is roadworthy and equipped with a spare tyre that is in good repair, basic tools, a reflective triangle and first aid kit.
Netcare 911 urges road users to follow these basic safety tips:
•Always ‘buckle up’: ensure that the driver and passengers are wearing seat belts and children are properly secured in safety seats at all times during a journey.
•Get adequate quality sleep before setting off on your journey.
•Avoid drinking alcohol before and during the journey.
•Stop and take a break from driving at least every two hours.
•If you are feeling tired, stop at a safe place and stretch your legs – wait for at least ten minutes before getting back in the car as you need to ensure that you are properly refreshed – or take a nap if you are still tired.
•Keep the temperature in your car cool, since a warmer interior encourages sleepiness.
•Make a point of checking blind spots and ‘reading’ road conditions such as watching out for potholes or a slippery surface in rainy weather, as well as oncoming and rear traffic – do not simply keep your eye on the vehicle ahead of you. Also watch out specifically for pedestrians and cyclists near or on the road.
•Do not use your cell phone while driving, rather allow your passengers to SMS, tweet and take photographs for you.
•Ensure a safe following distance of at least three seconds from the vehicle in front of you.
•Stay calm and extend your following distance between erratic and aggressive drivers.
“The importance of a first aid kit is often overlooked and sometimes the contents of the kits have expired. It is therefore essential to check the contents of your first aid kit regularly and replace any expired or damaged contents,” he adds.
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Checklist of items for your first aid kit:
•Sterile medical gloves
•A digital thermometer
•Two medical eye patches
•A variety of bandages and plasters as well as sterile gauze
•Antiseptic wipes and liquid
•A space blanket
•Safety pins, scissors, tweezers
•Paracetamol tablets and syrup
“Before setting off on your journey, it is advisable to do some research to obtain current information about the route that you are planning to take, including any roadworks or detours you will encounter. Getting lost or disorientated, especially when tired, can cause a driver to become distracted which could lead to an accident.”
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Ramduth offers the following advice when reporting an emergency: “Dial 082 911. When the call is answered, begin by stating ‘I have an emergency…’. Give your name and contact number clearly so that we will the means to contact you. Immediately state whether it is a life-threatening situation and be specific about the nature of your emergency. Give your exact location and the physical address or location where the individuals requiring assistance can be found.”
Technology is also making it easier to call for assistance in the case of an emergency, and a partnership between Netcare 911 and mySOS emergency mobile application is helping emergency medical practitioners to pinpoint the location of people requiring their assistance.
In an emergency, the mySOS app sends an alert to Netcare 911’s national emergency operations centre, and your selected loved ones to show them your GPS location. The app also makes a phone call to Netcare 911, so that assistance is mobilised in the shortest possible time. The mySOS app can be downloaded for free from https://www.mysos.co.za/download.html.
“It is always our hope that there will not be any accidents, and that by drawing attention to road safety matters we can contribute to many preventable accidents being avoided. Nonetheless, Netcare 911’s dedicated emergency care practitioners will be on full alert and ready to assist in case of any medical emergency that may arise,” Ramduth concludes.
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