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ROADwhyz travels to Grafton

Posted by ROADwhyz on May 18, 2010 at 10:31 PM

The ROADwhyz team was recently asked to attend the local High School at Grafton, this was a special request as the school had recently lost two of its students in a road crash and the school felt this was a good time to reinforce to the students that they are not bullet proof.


On the day Michelle, Chaplin Bert Geary and Paul from the Ambulance service delivered the presentation as the rest of our team were busy with work duties. We had a local High patrol officer fill in for us up there and he did a brilliant job, in attendance were two local Ambulance officers who want to start ROADwhyz in the local area.


A reporter attended on the day and this was his article in the news paper the following day....


The Daily Examiner Grafton

More Northern Rivers News »

19th May 2010


• Ambo drives home warning

THE chuckles and murmuring of teenage bravado were silenced the instant paramedic Paul Alexander began to speak.

“You are so close to being adults that we are going to treat you like adults,” he said.

“Some people will be physically and emotionally affected by what they see here today.

“If we see anyone laugh or smirk at an inappropriate time they will be dragged out of their seats so fast their shoes will be left behind.

“If you don’t believe me – try me ... we are talking about life and death.”

No one tried him – and I doubt any of the students had heard the likes of what they were about to hear.

The group, from a generation renowned for its short attention span, scarcely moved for almost two hours.

Paul went on explain how he’d seen only one motor vehicle accident in his 14 years as an ambulance paramedic but he’d seen hundreds of motor vehicle crashes, which were completely avoidable – the result of poor driving choices.

“That’s what makes our jobs so bloody frustrating,” he said.

He used some of his stories as gruesome examples of the effects of rapid deceleration.

Paul said he would never forget the sound made by the broken bones of a 16-year-old boy as he dragged his dead body from a car wreck to save the boy’s 13-year-old brother.

That boy died instantly, he said, because his spinal cord had been ripped from his skull.

Other common effects of deceleration, he said, were muscles being torn from bones and hearts being ripped from aortas.

The horrific stories continued – a young girl whaling and screaming in pain while trapped: “After a while her screams died down to moans. The moans turned to gurgled sounds. The gurgles turned to silence.”

But these stories were not told to simply scare the audience, Paul assured them.

“They are to demonstrate the consequences that exist out there if you make a poor choice driving,” he said.

For those not convinced about the consequences, Paul explained how those who survived crashes after driving recklessly often faced jail – and it was no tea party.

Paul said a male rape victim at Cessnock had grabbed him on the ankle, pleading with him not be sent back to jail after being stitched up after an attack.

“We are critically aware that some of you have been touched by tragedy recently,” he said.

“That’s one of the reasons that we are here today.

“Please do not let their deaths be in vain – please learn something from it.”

The video footage that followed showed a barrage of fatal crash scenes, grieving parents at those scenes and dead bodies of attractive young people – much like those watching – being dragged into body bags on the roadside.

By this stage the message was hitting its target hard – an ambulance chaplain walked around distributing tissues to crying youngsters and friends comforted each other.

But the most powerful speaker was yet to take the microphone.

Michelle Davis of Newcastle lost both her teenage sons, Brendan, 19, and Matt, 16, on July 14, 2005, in a road crash only minutes from her home.

The car was doing 120km/h in a 70km/h zone.

But the students didn’t know all that when Michelle asked them to raise their hands if they’d been in a car when the driver was speeding – almost all the students raised their hands.

“From today – you say no,” she said.

“I don’t want your mother to live the pain I live every day.

“I want you to think of your mums when I tell you this.”

The last words Michelle said to her son, on the phone 45 minutes before his death, were, “I love you, too, mate”.

Michelle took the audience through the afternoon of her sons’ deaths – how two female police officers appeared at her door on the evening two hours after the crash, asked her to confirm her name, insisted she sit down and then said the words: “We’re sorry to inform you that both your sons have been killed in a motor vehicle crash today at Morpeth and we have to get you there.”

“Now your mum might do what I did – I panicked and tried to ring my son’s phone, they must have made a mistake I’d just spoken to them,” Michelle said.

“I remember sitting down in the kitchen and thinking ‘this doesn’t happen to me – this happens to other people’.”

Michelle’s visit to the morgue to identify her sons was chilling.

“When their dad went in and saw them first – I still don’t have the words to describe the scream that came from that man.

She spoke of how it affected the boys’ little sister, then 10, and how now aged 15; she had ‘hit the wall’ faced with the reality that forever meant forever.

Michelle went on to say that ‘mum and dad will call on your friends to help out’ with choosing the music for the funeral and what to dress the body in.

Saying that her life had ‘turned to shit’ ever since the crash, Michelle explained to the crowd that kids are what parents live for.

“Pretty much, you’re what we do everything for,” she said.

“Brendan had been driving since he was 13, he was raised on a farm, he raced in rallies – driving is not the problem.

“We know you can drive but you’re not bullet proof.”

The Grafton-based organisers of yesterday’s event, ambulance officer Peter Maxwell and Grafton High School teacher Vivienne Nichols are hoping to make presentations like yesterday’s a regular occurrence in Clarence

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1 Comment

Reply Stewart Mc Ardle
4:12 AM on February 21, 2011 
Hello Reader,

I too am abhored at the Toll on Australian Roads, I was a Policeman from 63 -74 in many countries,my duties, Police Traffic Investigation and assisting SIB.

I have sadly had to cover just too many Fatal Accidents. I was also a Police Driving instructor also in
many countries as you guess on both sides of the roads, I became an advanced Instructot.

I came to Australia as Invited to set up a Photographic school which I did I also became a Civilian Driving Instructor, I had a very good pass mark with my Customers. I took them out in all weathers night and day, this was between 74 & 84.

I applaud your (RoadWhyZ) having heard in on 2UE today 21st Feb.
I never had more than 14 hrs Instruction for any Pupil, if I felt they would never pass a Test I told them so, most passed in 10 lessons. If I were an Instructor today I would feel inadequate at having to chalk up so many hours and cost parents.
Oh and I also took Pupils to quiet areas unused streets in the Making and had them Drive Blindfold, including Reverse Park, hree Point Turns and Reversing into Driveways and or Road simultations.
This was a Confidence Builder between Myself and Pupil, driving by voice command only.
I believe Peer Pressure is todays problems an including the vehicles in which beginners are allowed to practice Driving.
All driving applicants, I believe should, be trained in a Mannual Vehicle, thus they would be at some stage to assist in the event of an accident in assisting other Motorists.
I also believe that Drivers to be should be allowed access to travelling with Police Traffic Accident Investigation Teams and Ambulance Crews to see the Cases needing to be dealt with.
Perhaps, if they dont, these new Officers advising should carry a dossier of Photographs from another State to force home Pictorial Evdidence of, "Yes it can happen to you".

I served 63-84 in Traffic in one way or other.
My Motto:

Drive as though Today was the 1st day of the Rest of your Life.
Drive with Care.
Dont Make it your last.


21st Feb