How To Handle A Passenger's Medical Emergency

Jim Luff
Posted on August 24, 2016


In an industry that moves hundreds of thousands of people each day, sooner or later you are bound to have a passenger who experiences a medical emergency in your vehicle. While your first instinct might be to get to the nearest hospital, your best bet is to pull over and dial 911.

Even if you know the location of the nearest hospital, you don’t know what the traffic situation will be like through the route, and your driving would be distracted while watching your passenger have a massive heart attack or choke to death before you actually make it to the hospital.

According to Hillary Luff, a 911 center supervisor in Kern County, California, the best course of action is to immediately pull over and call 911. Before dialing, note the exact location. When the operator answers, immediately inform the operator that you have a medical emergency at your location. Identify any landmarks around you and describe your vehicle to the dispatcher. While you may be inclined to start talking about your passenger’s medical emergency, it's important that help gets started to you right away. The dispatcher who answers the phone will remain on the line with you until help arrives, but be assured that simultaneously another dispatcher is sending help to you.

Next, describe what is happening with your passenger. Be prepared to provide the passenger’s approximate age and exactly what was going on at the onset of the emergency. The dispatcher will provide lifesaving instructions to you until help arrives. You may need to enlist the assistance of a bystander to hold the phone and give you instructions while you perform CPR.

Never, ever hang-up on a 911 dispatcher until they tell you to do so or help arrives. If you are unable to find a bystander, you may just need to lay the phone down so the dispatcher can hear what is going on and then pick it up again when you can. If you have the presence of mind, place your phone in speaker mode. Remember to remain calm and follow each instruction as given to you. If you don’t understand it, ask the dispatcher to repeat it.

Related Topics: chauffeur training, difficult clients, driver behavior, driver training, driving gem, Jim Luff, passenger safety, Shop Talk blog

Jim Luff Contributing Editor
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