SA Ambulance acting clinical team leader Nick Williams says the impact of serious and fatal road accidents on country roads are tough, but support from his work circles are just as strong.
Having worked for SA Ambulance for nine years, including five in Port Augusta, Nick has seen at least a dozen serious road accidents.
“In small towns in can have quite a significant effect, quite often the rumours of an accident can get around before we’re back in and everyone knows everyone,” Nick said. “It can be traumatic but we’ve got the training to deal with it and peer support. “There’s definitely an impact, and the bigger impact is probably on friends, family and bystanders.”
While admitting the horrific scenes of serious and fatal accidents do impact SA Ambulance emergency service staff, on-call help such as Psychologists, provide the best support available. However, being in a small country town has its own unique benefits for SA Ambulance staff.
“You develop quite a close relationship with your team members in that there’s 17 of us here so we work in each others pockets 24/7,” Nick said. “You tend to bounce off each other … you’ll catch up with each other as need be.” Nick said the difference between reading about an accident in a newspaper and being out at an accident scene is quite stark.
He highlighted the ‘reasonable number’ of tourists in rented vans heading north that drive tired. He said it’s a common mistake of underestimating the distance and the time takes to drive from Port Augusta to Coober Pedy. He implored road users to be careful and try to eliminate any risk factors such as inattention, tiredness, and not understanding road conditions.
“Serious road accidents do impact us as emergency service workers however the greater impact is on friends and family,” Nick said. “People need to think about their impact on their friends and families, not just themselves.”
One moment of inattention on the road and you're going to impact your friends and family, however many you've got, you've got two or four ambos, four to three firies, and however many coppers are there.