From working at night in busy city centres to daily trips down quiet country lanes, taxi drivers are often called upon to help in emergency situations. From road accidents to stroke victims, every year thousands of people die or are seriously injured on the UK’s roads.


Many of these victims could have been saved if basic first aid was given before emergency services arrived. Being prepared to help save a life could make a world of difference to a victim and their family.


But basic first aid is only part of how to prepare yourself for any eventuality. Having the right taxi insurance in place helps to protect you, your vehicles and other road users, too. Give the team at Taxi Insurer a call today to discuss your options.



What is first aid and why is it so important?


Daily life is hazardous and accidents and medical emergencies can happen any time and anywhere – often when emergency services are not close by.


It’s vitally important that if you’re first on the scene you know how to provide the most appropriate help. Whether it’s a minor or serious injury or illness, first aid from you could help save a life, stop the condition from worsening or help promote a speedy recovery.


Benefits of basic first aid training include:


  • Confidence in case of any emergencies. Knowing the basics of first aid will not only help passengers, but could also save colleagues, friends and family from serious harm.
  • It saves lives. Knowing the right steps to take for proper medical treatment could make the difference between life and death.
  • Awareness of your own situation. With first aid training, you’ll also learn to notice the warning signs if you need help with your own health emergency. If there’s no one else around then you might have to save your own life!


This guide will give you the basics but it’s also worth consulting both the NHS website and the excellent St John Ambulance advice section on many common conditions. Or read our guide on basic first aid if you happen to be someone who happens to drive a minibus.


A first aid kit opened showing the contents inside such as bandages


Managing an emergency


The very first steps you take when you encounter an incident are vital for giving effective first aid. In an emergency situation it’s very easy to get stressed and make mistakes. The NHS recommends three straightforward steps.


Step 1  - Make sure you and the casualty are in a safe place. If there’s any danger, if possible, make the situation safe before performing first aid.


Step 2  - Dial 999 or 112 for an ambulance when it's safe to do so. If you think the situation requires it.


Step 3  - Start the basic first aid procedures appropriate for the situation.



Basic first aid procedures


There are a huge variety of situations where basic first aid can be vital. Here we take you through some of the most common and give you basic tools on how to help.


Always remember to make sure the area is safe before giving first aid. There’s no point putting yourself in danger and potentially making matters worse.



Treating an unconscious casualty


If someone is unconscious and breathing, first look for injuries that would stop them from being moved. If there are none, then place them in the recovery position until help arrives.


The St John Ambulance has an excellent video on doing this. Once they are in the recovery position, always keep a close watch on them to ensure their breathing remains normal.


If they’re unconscious and not breathing, call 999 or 112 and start CPR straight away. If you haven’t been trained to perform rescue breaths properly, then use hands-only CPR.


Hands-only CPR is simple to learn and easy to remember. An excellent starting point is to watch this British Heart Foundation video as a refresher.


A model of a mannequin giving another mannequin cpr


How to perform hands-only CPR


  1.     Kneel beside the casualty.
  2.     Put the heel of one hand on the middle of their chest.
  3.     Put the heel of your other hand on top of the first. Interlock your fingers together, but make sure they don’t touch the ribs.
  4.     Keeping your arms straight, position your body directly over your hands.
  5.     Press down hard and push fast to a depth of around 5-6cm before releasing the pressure. Repeat compressions to the beat of the song Staying Alive. Be sure to allow the chest to rise back up completely between compressions.
  6.     Continue CPR until you see obvious signs of life (like coughing, breathing, opening eyes), emergency help arrives to take over, or a defibrillator is ready to be used.



How to treat common accidents and emergencies


Here are just some of the most common accidents and emergencies you might come across as a taxi driver. Even this level of basic knowledge could be enough to save someone’s life or help prevent further injury.





This severe allergic reaction can occur after an insect sting or after exposure to food allergens such as nuts.


The reaction can develop extremely quickly into a life-threatening situation. As an affected person’s tongue and throat may swell their airways become blocked and they may develop breathing difficulties.


Call emergency services immediately if you even suspect someone is experiencing this. Some people who are susceptible to severe allergic reactions carry medication they might need help taking.





An asthma attack can be triggered by many different things such as a cold, a drug, cigarette smoke, or an allergy.


If someone is having an asthma attack then it can soon become life-threatening. If this happens then do the following:


  • Sit them upright and encourage them to take slow, steady breaths.
  • Keep them calm, panicking might make matters worse.
  • If they have an inhaler then encourage them to use it.
  • If they don’t have an inhaler or they seem to be getting worse then call an ambulance.


Some asthma sufferers may have a written asthma action plan with them on what to do in an emergency.


An asthma inhaler


Bleeding heavily


The aim here is to prevent further blood loss or the casualty going into shock. First call an ambulance as soon as possible. Then check if there’s anything embedded in the wound, if there is then try not to put pressure on the object.


Now apply and maintain pressure on the wound until the bleeding stops. Finally, use a clean dressing to bandage the wound firmly.


Watching this British Red Cross video could save someone’s life.



Broken bones


After checking the casualty is conscious and not bleeding heavily, in most cases it’s best to prevent further pain or damage by keeping the fracture as still as possible until help arrives.


It’s vital you call an ambulance if they are in severe pain, it’s obvious they have a broken leg, or you suspect they have injured or broken their back.





Choking is normally divided into two categories, mild choking and severe choking.


Mild choking occurs when the airway is only partly blocked and the person can still, speak, cough, cry or breathe. In these situations, do the following:


  • Encourage them to cough to clear the blockage.
  • Ask them to try to spit the object out.
  • If coughing doesn’t work, then try back blows.


If you can’t see the object, never put your fingers in their mouth as you might push it further down their throat.


Severe choking occurs where the airway is totally blocked and the person can’t speak, cough, cry or breathe. In this situation, do the following:


  • Stand behind and slightly to one side of the person. Support their chest with one hand and lean them slightly forward.
  • With the heel of your hand give up to five sharp blows between their shoulder blades.
  • If the blockage is not cleared then you might need to give up to five abdominal thrusts. Never give abdominal thrusts to children under the age of one or pregnant women.


To perform an abdominal thrust do the following:


  • Stand behind the person, place your arms around their waist and bend them forward.
  • Clench one fist and place it just above the person’s belly button.
  • Place your other hand on top of the fist and pull sharply inwards and upwards.
  • Repeat up to five times.


If back blows and abdominal thrust haven’t cleared the blockage then call an ambulance and tell the operator the person is choking. Continue cycles of back blows and abdominal thrusts until help arrives.



Diabetic emergency


People who have diabetes may experience a diabetic emergency, where their blood sugar becomes too high or too low.


Find out what to look for and what to do on the St John Ambulance help page which includes this helpful video.


People with diabetes may have certain items with them, so it’s always worth checking for these if they become unwell in your taxi:


  • A medical warning bracelet or necklace.
  • A glucose gel or glucose tablets.
  • Medication, such as an insulin pen, a special pump or tablets and a glucose testing kit.


A medical kit for controlling diabetes

Heart attack


One of the most common life-threatening conditions a passenger could suffer from is a heart attack. If you think someone is having or has had a heart attack then immediately call an ambulance and move them into a comfortable sitting position.


If the person has any medication for a heart condition, then help them to take it. Keep them closely monitored until help arrives. If they become unconscious then check their breathing and, if necessary, begin CPR. Call emergency services again and tell them the person is now in cardiac arrest.





Poisoning can occur for a whole host of reasons but most usually happens when someone swallows a toxic substance, takes an overdose of prescription medicine, or eats poisonous wild plants or fungi. Unfortunately, as a taxi driver you could come across  a passenger who has done this.


If you think someone is suffering from poisoning then call 999 for immediate medical help. While waiting for an ambulance to arrive remember the following:


  1. Try to find out if they have consumed something that has caused poisoning.
  2. Don’t give them anything to eat or drink.
  3. Do not try to make them vomit.
  4. Stay with them as their condition may worsen or they may become unconscious.
  5. If they do become unconscious then check for breathing and, if necessary, perform hands-only CPR.





The easiest way to assess if someone has had a stroke is to use the FAST guide. FAST stands for:


  • Face – The face may drop to one side. The person may be incapable of smiling and their mouth or eye may also drop.
  • Arms – They might be unable to lift both arms and keep them there due to numbness or weakness.
  • Speech – Their speech may become slurred or garbled. Or they might not be able to talk at all.
  • Time – Every second counts. So, call 999 as soon as you notice any of the above symptoms.


Be aware that in some unfortunate cases someone having a stroke has been mistaken for being drunk or under the influence of drugs. If in doubt, always call for help.



First aid courses


Having taxi insurance in place is a great way to protect customers but so is undertaking first aid training. After all, while this guide could save someone’s life, it’s no substitute for a certified first aid course.


There are plenty of training centres you can attend or even on-site training at your workplace or home. St John Ambulance and the British Red Cross are just two of the many providers.


Undertaking such courses is a great way to demonstrate continuous professional development and a useful way to differentiate yourself from the competition.



Protecting your business with taxi insurance


Looking after passengers is a taxi driver’s number one priority. That’s why the team at Taxi Insurer is always looking for ways to help.


The taxi insurance we arrange comes in many different forms and can cover everything from single vehicles to entire fleets. Public liability insurance and employers’ liability insurance can also usually be added.


In addition, we can offer no claims bonus protection, cover for minibuses and MPVs, cover for private and public hire, and a 24-hour claims management service.


Get a quote for taxi insurance today.


Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.