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30 November 2011

Stop killing our Paramedics

In the dark of the night and light of day; in rain, wind or sunshine and no matter what the circumstances, our paramedics are there when needed – and most often at a risk to their own lives.

“I did not see them”, “The guy suddenly stopped in front of me!” These are the type of excuses that we hear when paramedics are injured or killed during a secondary collision that could have been avoided. Not only is it our duty to avoid headlines such as “Four Medics Killed in Horror Crash”, but it is the duty of the public to take care before there is a chance for such a headline.

The festive season is usually known by many professionals in the emergency medical industry as the “silly season”. People drink and drive, speed, and sometimes just drive recklessly without any regard to the people around them. Sadly it is a fact that emergency workers will be called out to various types of accidents and medical emergencies during this period and be placing their lives at risk to save yours.

Recently a paramedic was killed and two others critically injured when a truck crashed into the initial accident scene. Warning systems and road blocks could not stop the truck from crashing into the chaotic scene causing a secondary collision that changed the lives of many on that scene. While it might not show, a paramedic always has the thought that it might have been the last time he greeted his wife or children before rushing out to save the trapped woman in her car on the highway.

It is with this thought in mind that ER24 would like to call upon every single person not to kill our paramedics. A secondary collision can happen in the blink of an eye, no matter what type of precaution or speed calming measures we put in place.

Paramedics advise on the following:
• Do not stop at the scene of a collision to have a look, even if you think it is safe.
• Slow down well before the scene and follow the demarcated lanes to guide you pass the collision, concentrating on the traffic around you.
• Ensure that you can still hear ambient sounds over and above your car radio. There are many different emergency warning sounds (sirens) that will indicate and emergency vehicle approaching. Lower your speed and identify the direction from which the emergency vehicle is approaching. Allow right of way to the emergency vehicle without endangering yourself or other road users around you.
• Emergency lights might be “attractive”, but do not gaze at the scene as you pass through it. You might inadvertently drive into the actual scene and collide with the emergency workers on the scene.
• Be aware of debris lying on the road. Although emergency workers try and clear the scene as soon as possible, small items might still lie on the road’s surface. Debris might be shot up and hit emergency workers on the scene.
• A collision scene is very unpredictable and you can never know when a fire may erupt or an unforeseen event will take place. It is therefore important that motorists keep their following distance to avoid a collision with the car in front of them when they suddenly stop.
• Paramedics strongly advise against stopping at the scene to show their children the collision.
• When a Medicopter lands at the scene of a collision all traffic will be stopped in both directions. Vehicles trying to push through on the side might collide with emergency workers or the Medicopter itself.

Our paramedics are precious to us and we can place no value on their lives. It is only with your help that we know we can render the best possible care to a patient on the scene without the worries that a vehicle will smash into you or your colleague.

We wish everyone a safe festive season and encourage commuters to Arrive Alive at their destinations.

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- ER24