Acting Duty Operations manager Grafton Ambulance Station Rick Knox talks about the affect of crashes on emergency services personnel.
Acting Duty Operations manager Grafton Ambulance Station Rick Knox talks about the affect of crashes on emergency services personnel. Adam Hourigan

Lasting impact: Emergency services caught up in road toll

EXPERIENCE can make a lot of things easier, but responding to traumatic and fatal road accidents is not one of those things.

This year has been a horrific year on Clarence Valley roads, with 14 fatalities so far in 2016.

>> SHOCKING TOLL: Clarence Valley's horror year on the roads

NSW Ambulance Grafton acting duty operations manager Rick Knox said as a paramedic and a member of the community he was disturbed by the number of deaths and injuries on our roads this year, and the impact it was having on paramedics who respond to the traumatic events.

"I've personally had that experience many times, and for me the worst part is thinking about the poor family that has to be informed," he said.

"It affects everyone differently, but that's what I think about. It doesn't get any easier either."

While this year's shocking death toll on Clarence Valley roads have left devastated families and friends to grieve their loss, it's often the emotional toll on the emergency service personnel that's easily forgotten.

As first respondents, NSW Police and Ambulance officers see the worst of the traumatic events that happen on the road, and Mr Knox said after almost 20 years as a paramedic, experience doesn't make it any easier to respond to a serious crash.

"We are human, and we are members of the local community, so this continual exposure does affect you, no matter who you are and what preventative measures are in place," he said.

"We have a number of support services available, and the ambulance service at the moment has been more proactive in trying to prevent long-term emotional and psychological impacts of these traumatic experiences, but when they're continually happening it will affect you."

NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol Command Chief Inspector Phillip Brooks said for officers in a small community, the impact is wide spread.

"Sadly with 14 lives lost there's the direct impact on 14 groups of family and friends, and when you consider the indirect impact on emergency service personnel, the numbers directly and indirectly affected by road trauma is significant," he said.

"Given that emergency service personnel are invariably living in the same towns as the events they're responding to, the impact on those officers is significant, as is the potential they know the individuals or families involved."



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