IT MIGHT be a part of their jobs, but that does not mean seeing the horrible reality of road trauma doesn’t have an impact on emergency service workers.
Bendigo Highway Patrol Acting Senior Sergeant Mick McCrann said investigating road trauma placed an emotional and mental burden on police officers.
“I think if you say it doesn’t have its toll on you, then you’re fooling yourself or you're devoid of feelings,” Acting Senior Sergeant McCrann said.
According to paramedic Tony McQueen, acting Bendigo MICA team manager, the effects of seeing traumatic incidents again and again can build up.
“Every time you attend one, I guess it takes a little bit away from you, the person that you were beforehand,” Mr McQueen said.
“It might not be something you recognise straight away, it might not be something you recognise for years down the track, and it might manifest as something severe… or it might just be that at home you’re a little bit more detached from your emotions with your children or with your family.”
Having attended dozens of crashes, Bendigo SES deputy controller of operations Jason Hague said it was not only fatalities, but the sight of significant injuries that would change someone’s life, that stayed with him.
“You do take those memories away with you I suppose, and it just sticks with you,” he said.
Acting Senior Sergeant McCrann said that as someone who often had to deliver the news to someone that their worst nightmare had become reality, he took on some of the grief of those affected.
“But at the same time, if I’ve seen the worst of it and I can protect them from some of it, then I guess I’m doing the right thing by them,” he said.
“That helps me in dealing with that trauma, because I've somehow put some good in a bad situation you know, I’ve done something that will reduce the impact on them, so it also helps me.”
Looking out for one another’s well-being is important among emergency service workers when they are having to face road trauma.
“We’ve got a very close unit here, we are like one big family, and I think you need to be, because we all experience those horrors together,” Mr Hague said.
As well as debriefing with colleagues, Mr McQueen said looking after physical health was also important for maintaining mental health in the face of trauma.
For SES volunteers, every crash they are called to also takes them away from their day-to-day life.
“We all do it willingly, we all do it in the most respectful and the most helpful way that we can, but it does impact on our own private time,” Mr Hague said.