Medicine on the run
Seals, of course, takes walk-ins. “We’re pretty much here to take care of the drivers,” he says. “They can stop in any time.”
If truckstop-based medical care is not available, hospital emergency rooms or walk-in clinics are often nearby and open seven days with long hours. For example, Instacare, a part of Intermountain Health Care in Salt Lake City, has 174 facilities in Utah, some in hospitals, some stand-alone clinics. Each has “a professional staff of licensed physicians and registered nurses that can handle minor emergencies, from sore throats and illnesses to cuts or broken bones needing x-rays.” Also, according to its website, Instacare will not deny treatment based on a patient’s “inability to pay.”
All states have hospitals with emergency rooms and usually more than one health care organization with walk-in clinics. Ask for locations at the fuel desk, on the CB or most anywhere; local law enforcement and even residents usually know where the nearest medical facility is. Also, an Internet search for walk-in health care will yield hundreds of hits. One website, www.tripprep.com, has a state-by-state list of health care facilities that specialize in providing care for travelers.
Major medical care requiring hospitalization hundreds of miles from home can bring up another question: how to get home? Fedin says if your condition is such that you require special care during transport, the ride can cost tens of thousands of dollars, “and it’s not covered by insurance.”
She recommends medical evacuation insurance, which she says costs about $200 a year. “If you have a really serious problem and you need to get back home for continued care, it’s extraordinarily expensive,” she says. With MEI “they can fly you from where you are to where you can get help,” and cost will not be an issue.
As a truck driver, you can plan on needing medical assistance while far from home. Take the right precautions. “With some healthcare plans you have to get permission to get emergency medical care,” on a case-by-case basis, Fedin says.
She also recommends carrying information that might be necessary. “Most people don’t know their blood type,” she says. “If they can find that and other information on a slip of paper in your wallet, it might save your life.”
First Aid Kit
Minor injuries and ailments such as small cuts, mild indigestion and headaches can be treated with basic first aid so long as the necessary tools are available. The following items are easy to find and together compose an adequate first aid kit.
- Adhesive bandages
- Elastic cloth wraps
- First aid antibacterial cream
- Waterless antibacterial hand sanitizer
- Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Antacid tablets
- Zipper-top plastic bags or ice bag
- Dental adhesive to temporarily replace loose fillings
- Prescription medications
- Moleskin for blisters
- Extra pair of prescription glasses or contacts
- Antifungal ointment
Carriers have different policies about rendering first aid to another person. “We train our drivers in emergency procedures at an accident scene,” says Don Osterberg, Schneider National’s vice president of safety and driver training. “We don’t want them to be bystanders.”
Other carriers instruct their drivers to call 911 and keep on going. This might come down to a personal decision. But if you administer first aid, make sure you know the procedures so you don’t cause further injury or hinder future treatment.