Fire, ambulance and Garda personnel show how a driver is cut from a car following a collision.
The profound and long-lasting human consequences of fatal road traffic collisions were powerfully conveyed to Transition Year students from Drogheda and Ardee recently at a road safety awareness event organised by An Garda Síochána at the TLT Theatre in Drogheda.
Representatives of An Garda Síochána, National Ambulance Service, Louth Fire and Rescue Services, Irish Road Victims Association as well a local undertaker all spoke about the suffering caused by fatal road traffic accidents, through the lives of family and community members.
Inspector Ronan Carey from the Louth Roads Policing Unit said the purpose of the event was to try and influence the young audience in their attitudes to using the roads as most were entering the stage of their life where they are considering taking up driving for the first time.
“What we are trying to do today is show the students the potential dangers that are ahead of them as they prepare for their theory test and driving lessons as most people think it will never happen to them” he said.
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“A special word of thanks to all the speakers who have given up their free time to pass on to the students the benefit of the experience that they have gained having attended hundreds of road traffic accidents between them”.
Superintendent Andrew Watters spoke about the numerous road traffic accidents that he has witnessed in his 33 years of service with An Garda Síochána and their wide reaching effects on the individuals involved, many of who were left with life changing injuries.
“Road Traffic fatalities and serious injuries also have a profound impact on members of the emergency services, family members of those involved as well as friends and the local community” Superintendent Watters said and he encouraged all those present not to be afraid to ask the driver to slow down or failing this, to request to get out of the car if they are feeling uncomfortable or feel that their lives could be put in danger through careless driving.
He also stressed the importance of never taking a lift with someone who has consumed alcohol or any other prohibited substance and where possible to challenge the behaviour of friends behaving irresponsibly.
Matt McShane from the Ambulance Service gave details of the procedures followed when attending a real-life road traffic accident.
He described in detail how an 18-year-old girl who was a passenger in a car being driven by her boyfriend was killed, while her boyfriend was paralysed from the waist down.
Matt was followed by Samantha Power from our Lady of Lourdes Hospital who gave details of how the hospital deals with major emergency incidents including a recent collision between a truck and bus outside Castleblayney in Co Monaghan in which 14 people were injured, three of whose injuries were described at the time as critical. Ms Power also stressed the importance of wearing a seatbelt when travelling.
The harsh reality of the carnage caused by road accidents was emphasised by Aidan Townley of Townley Funeral Directors who recalled attending a fatal road traffic accident which had involved two of his friends. He echoed the previous speakers by urging the students not to be careless when it comes to road safety.
Bereaved mother, Donna Price, who founded the Irish Road Victims’ Association (IRVA) in 2012, gave an emotional speech on the indescribable pain of being a parent who lost a child following a totally avoidable crash in 2006, which claimed the life of her 18-year-old son, Darren.
Ms. Price referenced the IRVA banner displayed beside the stage which was full of photos of those who have lost their lives in road accidents. The purpose of the banner was to show the victims of road traffic accidents were real people and not just statistics.
After a wet morning, the rain eventually cleared, just in time for Louth Fire and Rescue Services together with the Ambulance service to carry out a live demonstration to show how persons trapped in a crashed vehicle are extricated as safely as possible.
The demonstration which followed an introduction by Peter Quinn, involved the use of cutting equipment to remove the doors and roof of the vehicle, with narration throughout by Martin McElearney Station Officer, Drogheda Fire and Rescue.
Upon return to the auditorium Garda Barbara Bracken gave a presentation on the dangers of ‘killer behaviours’ namely, drink and drug driving, speeding and mobile phone use. The event concluded with a powerful video showing how a momentary visual lapse behind the wheel, as the result if mobile phone distraction, can have tragic consequences.
The organisers would like to thank all those members of the emergency services who kindly gave up their times to make the event a success and a special mention to the TLT for the use of their premises on the day.