It’s ev­ery po­lice of­fi­cer’s night­mare

The Riverine Herald - - NEWS -

IT’S A dirty job, but some­one has to do it.

At­tend­ing a fatal­ity is with­out a doubt one of the worst jobs a po­lice of­fi­cer will face in their ca­reer.

Man­gled bod­ies. Blood­ied chil­dren. The stench of death. It’s car­nage.

It’s no won­der PTSD is so rife within the force.

Ac­cord­ing to Mur­ray River Po­lice District In­spec­tor Paul Huggett, re­spond­ing to fa­tal ac­ci­dents never gets eas­ier.

‘‘I couldn’t count how many I’ve at­tended in my ca­reer,’’ he said.

‘‘You still get a shud­der down your spine.

‘‘When you hear of a fa­tal, whether it be in Queens­land, Afghanistan or in your district, it still brings back mem­o­ries of de­ceased peo­ple you have seen.

‘‘When you at­tend a fatal­ity you just want to give these peo­ple some form of dig­nity but you can’t be­cause it’s a crime scene.

‘‘I re­mem­ber this one lit­tle girl, her pants had come down be­cause of the force of the crash and all I wanted to do was just pull them up for her but I couldn’t. The poor lit­tle dar­ling. It was heart­break­ing.’’

Insp. Huggett said the rip­ple ef­fect of fa­tal­i­ties and se­ri­ous crashes were far-reach­ing and would be felt for years and decades later.

‘‘From the emer­gency ser­vices work­ers who are first on scene to the nurses and doc­tors, and then the fam­i­lies, friends, work col­leagues and the com­mu­nity as a whole, the rip­ple ef­fect is tragic es­pe­cially in small com­mu­ni­ties,’’ he said.

This was echoed by Sergeant Paul Ni­coll of Campaspe High­way Pa­trol who said he never for­got the fa­tal­i­ties he had at­tended over the years. And there have been too many to count.

‘‘They all stay with you and you re­mem­ber when and where they hap­pened,’’ he said.

‘‘I try not to dwell on them though. Time is a great healer.’’

From De­cem­ber 14 to Jan­uary 6, Campaspe po­lice will sat­u­rate the roads as part of its hol­i­day cam­paign — Op­er­a­tion Road­wise.

High­way pa­trol, uni­form of­fi­cers, heavy ve­hi­cle and spe­cial task­force units will once again be tar­get­ing speed­ing, dis­trac­tion of­fences, fa­tigue and im­paired driv­ing.

And Booze and drug buses will be on the roads,’’ he said.

‘‘We ex­pect to catch more drug driv­ers than drunk driv­ers by a huge amount.

‘‘There’s been a real shift in the past few years. Peo­ple seemed to have learnt about drink driv­ing but not about drug driv­ing.’’

His mes­sage to mo­torists was sim­ple.

‘‘Plan your hol­i­days in ad­vance and take your time to get there, don’t rush,’’ he said.

‘‘If you are plan­ning on hav­ing a drink, make sure you have a des­ig­nated driver.

‘‘We want to en­sure ev­ery­one has a safe and happy Christ­mas.’’

Insp. Huggett is also hop­ing this Christ­mas won’t be one of tragedy.

‘‘Inat­ten­tion, not driv­ing to the con­di­tions, tex­ting, in­tox­i­ca­tion and speed all con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cantly to road trauma,’’ Insp. Huggett said.

‘‘These days, we’re too self­ish in our needs and can’t wait 10 min­utes to get across the in­ter­sec­tion or to pull over to check our phones.’’

So this Christ­mas, par­tic­u­larly if you’re trav­el­ling long dis­tances, re­mem­ber Insp. Huggett’s words.

‘‘Stop, re­vive and sur­vive. Plan breaks, make sure your car is ser­vice­able and don’t speed,’’ he said.

‘‘We want you to get to your des­ti­na­tion alive.’’

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