Help Wanted

You can buy pre-assembled kits at truck stops or retail stores or on the Internet, or you can assemble your own.

A hero’s tool box
If you assemble your own first-aid kit, be sure to include the following:

  • Band-Aids and bandages in assorted sizes
  • Gauze pads and rolled gauze in assorted sizes
  • Triple antibiotic ointment
  • Soap
  • Bottled water
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Medical tape
  • Instant cold pack
  • Blanket
  • Clean towels
  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Latex gloves
  • Face shield (if you know how to administer CPR)
  • Flashlight and extra batteries

    A wide variety of first-aid kits can be purchased on the Internet. Some websites offer kits assembled specifically for truckers. Kits generally range from $30 to $70.

    Not everyone knows how to perform cardio-pulmonary resuscitation or how to do the Heimlich maneuver. Even if you don’t, you can be of great assistance – possibly even saving a life – at an accident scene if you’re willing to carry first-aid supplies and know how to use them.

    John Davis, a driver for Cornbread Express, Wilmington, Ohio, feels it is a priority to help injured people on the highway. That’s why Davis keeps a first-aid kit – sometimes two of them – on his truck.

    “You see all these wrecks on the highway, and you just know you need one,” Davis says. “Who’s usually the first person at a wreck? A truck driver.” After more than 20 years of driving, Davis says he has lost count of the times he has used first-aid basics, such as bandages, to help accident victims.

    First-aid kits can be found in some truck stops, discount stores and other retailers, as well as on many Internet sites. They vary widely in price, depending on their size.

    Ken Horst, supervisor of emergency medical services for the Tuscaloosa Fire Department in Alabama, says bandages and gauze top the list of items to have in a kit. “One of the most important things in controlling emergency situations is the ability to stop bleeding,” he says. “It can really make the difference between life and death.”

    Horst says drivers should also remember to protect themselves, as well. Latex gloves are important for treating a bleeding patient. Truckers who know how to administer cardio-pulmonary resuscitation can use a face shield for protection.

    The cheaper kits tend to be in plastic cases that include basics such as

    bandages, ointments, scissors and tape. The more expensive kits, usually in metal cases, have items such as insect sting relief pads, a sling and burn cream.

    Crete Carriers driver Bobby Randall says he has found kits at truck stops for less than $20. Many newer trucks, such as Randall’s 2001 Freightliner, come equipped with a basic kit.

    Another option is to assemble your own first-aid kit. Lewis Holt, who hauls boats for Deep Water Transport, Washington, N.C., included items such as bandages, Band-Aids, disinfectant and cotton balls in his homemade kit. Bob Kielman, a driver from Orlando, Fla., also did his own. “You’ve just got to be prepared,” Kielman says.

    Charles Messina, a registered nurse and a former paramedic for Rural/Metro Medical Services in Buffalo, N.Y., stresses that owners must also know how to use the items in their kits. Purchased kits usually contain booklets explaining how to use the contents, including tips on emergency situations. Messina offers tips on the use of certain items:

  • Soap and bottled water can be used to clean cuts and scrapes. “Water can also be used to flush dirt and other foreign bodies from the eyes or to cool burns,” Messina says.
  • Before using Band-Aids, bandages or gauze, treat the cut with triple antibiotic ointment to prevent infection and to speed healing.
  • Scissors and tape are useful to apply bandages and gauze.
  • Tweezers can remove splinters, but they should never be used to remove things from the eyes, ears or nose because doing so is risky.
  • Instant cold packs, by reducing inflammation, can be used to relieve an aching back, a sore muscle or a bruise. Messina says a cold pack should be wrapped in a towel to avoid frostbite.
  • Horst notes that using a first-aid kit also has a benefit for the person giving aid. “It makes them feel like they can really do something to help,” he says. “You won’t feel helpless and go away thinking that you just stood there and couldn’t do anything.”