Emergencies at Home

| July 05, 2005

One of the things to find out during orientation is whether your carrier has counselors and/or other in-house help available.

“Our drivers can reach a counselor 24 hours a day, any day of the week,” says Marten’s Peterson. “It’s completely confidential and free of charge to the employee. This resource offers individuals the opportunity to speak to someone about health, family, financial and personal issues.”

If a possible crisis is looming – a terminally ill parent at home perhaps – drivers need to work with their companies once they know the possibility of a sudden crisis is there.

“If there is a possibility something might happen, the driver should let their manager know as soon as they get that information,” says Harper. “In most cases, we would try to find local or dedicated work as a temporary solution to keep the driver close to home.”

Harper says if J.B. Hunt can’t find local or regional work, they will plan ahead and be ready to work with their driver to get him or her home either with a load or by air, “whichever the driver desires.”

Marten’s Peterson says the driver would ideally notify the company that something might come up. “During this time we can have a driver do local work, get a dedicated run temporarily or request a leave of absence.”

Companies are ready to help when a driver runs into a crisis, but if that crisis is of their own making, a company may have limited responses.

“In the case of an arrest, each case stands on its own,” says Harper. “As a general rule, if the driver is arrested for a serious offense (murder, child abuse, major crime), we do very little. In other cases, such as hot checks, child support issues, alimony, etc., we may, depending on the situation, help the driver get home or to a place where he or she can deal with the problem. We provide no legal assistance for a problem that is personal in nature.”

But J.B. Hunt offers help in many situation where the driver has a legal issue as a result of the job.

“An example would be a traffic ticket as a result of an accident,” Harper says. “We defend the traffic ticket if it helps us mitigate our loss. We do not help with traffic tickets that the driver may receive as a result of just poor judgment, such as speeding or running traffic control devices. Although, on occasion, we may point the driver to an attorney to help at his or her expense.”

In the end what happens is part of the give and take between the company and its drivers, MacGillivray says. “There’s no one set practice,” he says. “But if drivers keep us informed and there is a strong communication between the driver and the fleet manager, odds are we’ll find the best solution as fast as possible.”

Be Prepared
We plan for the worst. Schools have fire drills. Banks stage fake robberies. Communities have disaster response procedures. But how will you respond if tragedy strikes at home and you’re hundreds of miles away?

You never know how you’ll respond to personal catastrophe until it comes. Dr. Emily Smith, a licensed professional counselor and crisis intervention specialist, says it’s best to meet that uncertainty head on with a planned response. “Research has shown us that even though we might not respond exactly according to plan in an emergency, we respond better than we would with no plan,” she says.

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