Two men killed

Emer­gency ser­vices at­tend sep­a­rate ac­ci­dents

Benalla Ensign - - Front Page - By Si­mon Rup­pert

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.

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