We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

Summer brings spike in fatal crashes

By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, June 8th 2018

The police, ambulance, fire and others such as tow-truck operators and flaggers are forever affected by their experiences at a fatal crash, Steve Wallace writes.


Fatal crashes are the fear of every driver.
The most common are at intersections and on the highway.
The head-on high-speed crash is the most devastating, and the T-bone intersection crash is one of the most feared.
Pedestrians are very vulnerable, as are cyclists, motorcyclists and other users of less conventional modes of transportation.
First responders are very much affected by their attendance at a crash scene.
They come to hate the smell of engine coolant, as they associate it with death at the scene.

The police, ambulance, fire and others such as tow-truck operators and flaggers are forever affected by their experiences at a fatal crash.
Fault is generally the last thing they are thinking about when they are trying to save lives.
It is often the speculation of bystanders that brings the topic into play.

Fault, and the assignment of it, can wait when action has the greater priority at the crash scene.
Treating the injured and administering life-saving techniques to those who have stopped breathing are the priority.
Fear of another crash, as gawkers drive past the scene, is always a concern for those responsible for securing a fatal crash location.

The scene must be controlled.
It is particularly important to illuminate the location at night to protect the first responders.
Well-meaning citizens who are first on the scene can be a great help to attending professionals arriving afterward.
It is important for some to tend to the injured, while others direct traffic or otherwise offer support.

Professional drivers are often the ones with a first aid kit, ready and willing to hold the fort until a medical team arrives.
Families must be informed of the crash and the resulting injuries and those killed at the scene or on the way to the hospital.
This terrible task usually falls to the police.
They are trained to break the news to the loved ones.

Many police personnel will tell of the look of acknowledgment and shock on the faces of the family, as they approach a residence or workplace, to delivery the news.
(I have only had to do this once. I can assure you, there is no template or textbook way of proceeding.)
Funeral arrangements must be made. This is probably the most difficult time in any family’s life.
Many of the survivors of such a circumstance describe it as being in some sort of surreal fog.
Family members of the deceased relate the same feelings of despair and disconnect.

A close friend, who had experienced the loss of his son in a fatal crash, once confided in me: “The hole in your head will heal, but the hole in your heart will never heal.”

Counselling and psychological help is often very important in such circumstances.




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