Traumatic incidents put in spotlight
RoadWise Geraldton chairman Bob Hall remembers the first time police asked him to notify a family about a fatality.
“It was 3am, Albany,” the former officer said.
“I had to advise a mother and father that their 21-year-old daughter had been involved in a central Wheatbelt crash.”
“I also had to suggest that they shouldn’t go and see her because her body had been burnt beyond recognition.
“Afterwards I thought ‘I no longer want to do this, I just want to take my uniform off and throw it away’.”
Mr Hall reflected on his introduction to road trauma after the death of Geraldton man Donald Jupp, who died in a motorcycle crash in South Greenough on March 17.
Mr Jupp, 64, was taking part in the Black Dog Ride — an annual event in which local motorcyclists ride through the Mid West to raise awareness of suicide and depression.
He was riding a Triumph motorcycle north on Brand Highway about 3pm, when he collided with a southbound Toyota Fortuner near a bend in the road. The accident happened about 30 minutes from the ride’s finish line.
Major crash officers are still investigating his death.
Mr Hall described the collision as nothing short of a tragedy.
“It’s extremely tragic, especially considering the good work people participating in that ride do,” he said.
“To lose someone in that fashion is just very, very devastating.”
Mr Hall, a passionate advocate of road safety education, said the effects of road trauma could linger in communities for some time after an accident.
He said although the psychological impact associated with being in an accident and learning about one had remained largely the same since his 1975 admission to the WA Police Force, change had bloomed in the availability of helpful services.
Injury Matters chief executive Sandy Lukjanowski said common responses to grief included numbness, sadness, shock, anger or guilt, avoiding behaviour, forgetfulness, restlessness, exhaustion, and nausea.
“It’s important to recognise that you have experienced a very stressful event and allow yourself time and space to adjust,” Ms Lukjanowski said.
“Maintaining a normal routine as much as possible and spending time with people who care about you are vital to the recovery process.”
Injury Matters advises people struggling to cope with road trauma to seek professional help through their doctor, or Road Trauma Support WA on 1300 004 814.
1. Recognise that you’ve been through an extremely stressful event and give yourself time and space to adjust.
2. Ask family and friends not to push you and tell them you need to deal with the incident at your own pace.
3. If you feel able, talk about your feelings with people who understand.
4. Try not to block out or bottle up your feelings. Confronting the reality will help you come to terms with the experience.
5. Try to maintain as normal a routine as possible.
6. Avoid trying to numb the pain with drugs and alcohol.
7. Don’t be afraid to reach out for professional help.
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