Driver’s health warn­ing

Twit­ter star shares his heart scare

Big Rigs - - BIG RIGS | NEWS - James Gra­ham James.Gra­[email protected]­grigs.com.au

VET­ERAN driver Mike Wil­liams isn’t sure where he would be to­day if he didn’t have the sense to call an am­bu­lance when he did.

The dan­ger­ous goods spe­cial­ist was early in a run south from Townsville when he felt so un­well he pulled his T909 over near the Bur­dekin Bridge, just out­side the small Far North Queens­land town of Ayr.

He ini­tially thought he was suf­fer­ing from heat­stroke, but it soon be­came ap­par­ent that he had a much big­ger prob­lem.

“I pulled over think­ing ‘this isn’t so good. I’ve got the air-con­di­tion­ing on in the truck and I don’t feel any bet­ter’,” re­called Mike, 55, who drives for Port Kem­bla-based Unan­derra Tanker Hire.

“I knew that as soon as I tell them [the emer­gency ser­vices] I’m in a chem­i­cal tanker all hell is go­ing to break loose.

“As well as that I’m over 2000km from home, and the com­pany hasn’t got an­other truck within 1000km of me.

“Those were all the things that you start to think about but I would say to any­one who even re­motely thinks they have some­thing go­ing on with their ticker to call a bloody am­bu­lance.

“You don’t get a sec­ond chance. It is go­ing to be big­ger than Ben Hur, there’s no es­cap­ing that, but just make sure you’ve parked your truck safely and look af­ter your­self. If you don’t look af­ter your­self, who looks af­ter your kids? Who looks af­ter your mis­sus?”

Mike said he was for­tu­nate that he recog­nised the symp­toms af­ter his first heart at­tack in 2012.

“I had none of the other clas­sic symp­toms. All I had was that I was sweat­ing and I had this crush­ing sen­sa­tion in the chest and I thought ‘nah, you can’t play this game’.

“I rang the am­bu­lance and they were awe­some. They took me for tests at Ayr and said you’re hav­ing a heart at­tack. So up to Townsville I went and they put a cou­ple of stents in.”

Af­ter a few weeks off to re­cu­per­ate, Mike’s back be­hind the wheel now and feels as “fit as a Mallee bull”.

But the for­mer the­atre nurse and pop­u­lar so­cial me­dia user – his han­dle @theoztrucker has more than 3000 fol­low­ers – wants oth­ers to learn from his lucky es­cape and not ig­nore what your body is telling you.

“And I would say to any­one who has had the ex­pe­ri­ence I’ve had, it’s tough. It’s hard on you men­tally be­cause the first thing that goes through your mind is ‘how do I make the mort­gage pay­ments?’ But if you’re lucky like I’ve been, you have a com­pany that stands be­side you and ac­cepts that you did the right thing by mak­ing the phone call,” he said.

“I am grate­ful for the sup­port I re­ceived from my em­ploy­ers. The en­cour­age­ment and op­por­tu­nity to re­turn to work as early as pos­si­ble has made a real dif­fer­ence to me.”

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

SAFETY FIRST: Lucky-to-be-alive Mike Wil­liams urges other truck­ies to pay at­ten­tion to the warn­ing signs.

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