Celebrating Emergency Service Heroes – Road Safety Week 2021

3 minute read

Air ambulance

According to Government Data, 24,470 were killed or seriously injured in road traffic accidents reported to the police for the year ending June 2020. Statistics for this year are not yet known.  Over the years, there has been a gradual increase in fatalities and serious injuries.  Between 2004 and 2020, fatalities have increased by 5% and serious injuries by 26%.

During the same period, pedal cycle traffic grew by 96%.

Between 2015 and 2020, an average of two pedal cyclists died and 83 were seriously injured per week in reported road casualties.  The statistics show that in 2020, car occupants accounted for 42% of road users killed, but the more vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists, pedal cyclists and pedestrians together accounted for over 53% of fatalities.

So what can be done to keep us safe on the roads?

There are the obvious things, like keeping ones speed low if driving, keeping a safe distance, not driving when tired, or drunk. As a vulnerable road user wearing high visibility clothing and helmets all helps.

We all have to use the road and the Highway Code has now been changed to give priority to vulnerable road users. The hierarchy puts pedestrians at the top, then cyclists, and horse riders, then motorcyclists then cars and taxis, vans and mini buses with larger passenger and heavy good vehicles at the bottom.

No one wants to be involved in an accident, but the people who dedicate themselves to providing assistance in those circumstances deal with horrific scenes and circumstances on a regular basis.  Road Safety Week this year focuses on celebrating the emergency services – and rightly so.

The work they do is often rewarding but there is no doubt that the emotional strain is high.   Our emergency services are one of the professions with the highest suicide rates, yet they provide us with an amazing service.  The police are normally the first on the scene and have to assess and make the area safe.   The first responders and paramedics and Fire and Rescue Service also arrive on the scene and have to undertake gruelling work that can sometimes take hours to release people that are trapped in vehicles.  The Paramedics and Ambulance Service are under particular strain at the moment, yet they continue to do their work with smiles on their faces. The Air Ambulance respond to medical emergencies to support local Ambulance Services.  In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, all of these air ambulance services are funded by charitable donations, with call out costs for each being a minimum of £2,500.

Why the Air Ambulance service is so important

Take Gill – she owes her life and limbs to the Air Ambulance Service.  Just one week into the first lockdown of 2020, she decided to walk to the local shop for some milk, maintaining social distancing she waited outside the shop to gain entry, when she was suddenly hit by a car.

The car reversed at high speed and hit her legs.  She was forced back against a wall sustaining horrific injuries to her lower legs.

Multiple emergency services attended the scene included an Armed response unit which closed off the road.

The Air Ambulance arrived at the scene within 14 minutes of the emergency call.  Due to the severe crush injuries, Gill had suffered significant blood loss and was in extreme pain. Her injuries were life threatening.

As Gill herself appreciates having a helicopter attend was a huge benefit as it enabled her to get to the Major Trauma Centre within 30 minutes as opposed to one and a half to two hours by road.  For her this was probably the difference between life and death.

She said “I had no idea of the extent of my injuries and no idea how this might turn out for me.  My husband was told, after I had left in the helicopter, that I might have to have my legs amputated. If it had not been for the helicopter, I don’t think I would have made it at all”.

So during Road Safety Week let us all give a thought for those emergency responders, the police, the Fire and Rescue, the paramedics and the Air Ambulance who selflessly provide such sterling support for us all at times when we so desperately need it.

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