Two men killed
Emergency services attend separate accidents
Two local men are dead, killed in single-vehicle traffic accidents.
Two families, and extended families and friends beyond that, are devastated.
But unseen, unknown to most, the ripple effect of our road toll keeps spreading.
Last Wednesday a 33-year-old Benalla man died after losing control of his vehicle on Firth Rd, and hitting a tree.
Two days later it was a Tatong man; killed when his car struck a tree near Upper Ryans Creek.
Incredibly both tragedies saw the same police, SES, ambulance and CFA crews attend.
Benalla Police acting Senior Sergeant Dave Gillespie said both fatalities had severely impacted the local community.
‘‘What most people would not realise is in both cases it was the same police who attended,’’ Snr Sgt Gillespie said.
‘‘And the same emergency services crews. So not only had we been to a road death two days earlier, we’re all seeing one another again at a second road fatality in three days.’’
He said the impact on all emergency services could be traumatic, particularly when they came so close together and the same crews were trying to deal with it all.
And it’s not just dealing with the carnage, they also have to support witnesses who may have been first on the scene and are not trained for that type of thing.
Then there is the death knock, breaking the news to families; another traumatic experience they have to endure.
It can be, Snr Sgt Gillespie said, so demanding and so draining as all emergency service responders have to control their emotions to support everyone else at the scene.
‘‘As tough as this is for the community by losing somebody local, it is immeasurable for the family, friends and relatives,’’ he said.
‘‘But it is also so very difficult for witnesses who attend the scene and try their best to assist drivers or occupants of the car, which happened at both collisions.’’
Snr Sgt Gillespie said Benalla was only a small community and the impact would be felt for a long time.
Adding while a serious car crash was a difficult thing to witness he wanted to commend the community members who tried to help at both incidents.
‘‘Both scenes were very confronting and the community members who were first on scene to both of those collisions before any emergency services, their performance was incredible,’’ Snr Sgt Gillespie said.
‘‘They held it together, they contacted 000, they provided updates for emergency services, they did a really good job.
‘‘For that we’re appreciative, but we’re also aware that it’s not something people want to be coming across and witnessing as they’re driving down the road.’’
With the warmer months coming up we are going to see increased traffic on our roads, particularly motorcycles and Snr Sgt Gillespie said it was important for all road users to be safe and aware of others.
‘‘So we’ve all got to try and support each other at this time,’’ he said.
‘‘As a preventative measure, if you think somebody’s having an off day or you think someone’s even joking about driving cars or road safety pull them up on it and just reminds them of the impact of road trauma.
‘‘When you are driving keep an eye out for motorcycles, and motorcycle riders need to be aware of all vehicles around them.
‘‘We work very hard to achieve zero, which is the state government campaign to reduce Victorian road fatalities to the point we do not have any.
‘‘Unfortunately we are not going to get there this year. But we are going to try very hard to keep pushing the road safety message out there for the remainder of the year.’’
Another way the public can help reduce the number of crashes in the Benalla area is to report any stretches of road, or intersections, they feel are potentially dangerous.
‘‘If people see any risky areas or any parts of roads they might feel uncomfortable with, let us know,’’ Snr Sgt Gillespie said.
‘‘If you see an intersection or section of road that doesn’t sit well with you, where you’ve thought of an idea that might make that piece of road safer please contact local police.
‘‘What we can do is take that to our road safety stakeholders, such as VicRoads or Benalla Rural City Council. We can put that on the table on behalf of that member of the public and raise it as a concern.
‘‘And you might not be the first member of the public to notice the issue and it might be that is all we need — somebody to raise the idea and say ‘how about we look at this intersection’.
‘‘And that idea might be all it takes to prevent someone being seriously hurt or killed.’’
Snr Sgt Gillespie said police were simply asking people to be very mindful when they are out on the roads — to make sure they look after one another.
‘‘We all know the community is hurting at the moment, that there are people out there that will take a long time, if not forever, to get over this trauma, and it is important that we support them at this time,’’ he said.
‘‘And that might even mean assisting them with mental health referrals and getting some professional help.
‘‘We want people to look after one another when they’re out on the roads. If they witness anything or are aware of anything that is likely to cause harm. Something that is going to increase the risk, to not only the driver of the car and its occupants, but to other road users, to please be brave enough to stand up and say ‘don’t do that’ or call 000.
‘‘If they observe a driver acting silly or dangerously, if they see someone increasing their speed or if they’re on the phone, call 000.
‘‘Because the last thing we need is to go to any fatalities or a serious injury collision, especially during this time when the community is on its knees.’’
● If you have been affected by road trauma, phone the Road Trauma Support Service on 1300 367 797 or visit rtssv.org.au
Busy: Police, CFA, SES and ambulance personal who attended a fatal vehicle collision on Wednesday were called out to another fatality only two days later.