Works physician: A job between flashing lights, body and soul

September 8 is the World First Aid Day. With the motto “Everyone can help,” the German Red Cross is calling on everyone to become familiar with basic first aid procedures. That’s because, unfortunately, accidents can happen anywhere and at any time, including here at Daimler.

First aid begins with making an emergency phone call. When someone dials 112 from a fixed-line number on our plant grounds, our experienced team swings into action. It consists of the control center staff, emergency paramedics, and emergency doctors. Our plant rescue service is perfectly set up, with state-of-the-art equipment that enables it to provide quick and expert assistance.

I can’t imagine a better job than being a works physician at Daimler. Helping people and taking on responsibility was always my ambition. Here at Daimler it became my dream job, with fulfilling tasks, great colleagues, and exciting professional opportunities.

As a works physician, I’m the contact person concerning health issues for all employees at this location. In addition, we emergency doctors are usually the first ones to reach patients, and thus we’re directly responsible for providing emergency medical treatment.

The range of services provided by emergency paramedics and doctors, like that of doctors in general, is mostly in the areas of internal medicine and general care. That includes circulatory problems, asthma, allergies, and heart attacks. Work accidents make up a small percentage of our work, because at Daimler we’ve got a very high standard of occupational safety.

Compared to public rescue services, we have even shorter deployment times. For example, at our plant in Untertürkheim near Stuttgart we reach our deployment location in three to four minutes. We seldom need more than seven minutes to get there. In the state of Baden-Württemberg, the legal timeframe for emergency assistance is between ten and a maximum of 15 minutes. The reason we’re so fast is that we’ve got quick alarm times, short distances, familiarity with the grounds, and good teamwork.

When someone dials 112, this is what happens: The responder at our security control center asks the caller what has happened and where. The dispatcher has to know whether the person is responsive and how serious the injuries are. This is important information for our team. In addition, it helps us decide whether to send out our emergency paramedics with or without an emergency physician. If necessary, our team members also alert the fire brigade or the plant security service.

A mission in a Mercedes rescue vehicle

For example, if a physician is needed, I receive a call on my mobile phone with the keyword “Mission.” At that point I drop whatever I’m doing, pull on my jacket, and run as fast as I can to our Mercedes-Benz rescue vehicle. One of my colleagues drives me to the mission location.

As soon as we’ve given the patient first aid, we decide on the spot what kind of further treatment is needed. If the patient is all right so far, our plant medical service team continues treating the patient. But if necessary, of course we drive directly to a resident specialist or to the nearest clinic.

One difference between us and a public emergency service is that we also have to be ready to deal with hazardous materials that are used in an industrial environment. Of course we’re prepared for such situations, for example with what we call a Tox-Box. This is a suitcase that contains medicines and equipment for possible cases of poisoning due to industrial chemicals.

Finally, I have some advice for my colleagues: Nobody should hesitate to call us. It’s better to call once too often than once too little. For us, no trips are a waste of time. And, believe me, our best missions are the ones in which we conclude that nothing bad has happened!

How you can help

In case of an emergency, the most important thing is to do something. Here you can find a guide showing you what to do in case of an emergency. Our colleagues can take a two-day training course at Daimler to qualify as first responders. During the course they learn what to do in case of an emergency, how to correctly give a heart massage, what to keep in mind during an emergency call, and lots more.

More information

The Health & Safety unit at Daimler is responsible for health management, among other things. At this unit, works physicians, social counselors, sports and health scientists, physician’s assistants, and the safety experts from the occupational safety unit implement many kinds of preventive measures to keep all of our employees fit and healthy. If an accident should occur, the in-house emergency service provides the best possible emergency first aid.

Frank Wagner is a Daimler AG works physician at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Untertürkheim and heads the plant’s rescue service. He switched to Daimler from his previous job at a clinic, because he likes the mix of medicine and management, and because he has a strong affinity for automotive topics — also known as “gasoline in his veins.”