Patients not the only ones affected by road trauma | VIDEO

"THE phone call you least want to make is the call to the family to say that someone has died or has serious injuries," Dr Lindsay Tyrrell, senior registrar in emergency medicine, said.

"The impact on the family is devastating.

"There is also an extended effect on the other people involved in the trauma, like police and emergency services.

"We are the first point of contact.

"On staff it can be very stressful; it's very pressurised."

Shaun Probert, acting LGH nurse unit manager, said some events might have a lifelong effect on staff.

"We work together closely as a team and make sure that we use critical debriefs, to make sure that our staff survive the event," he said.

"We are a small community and it's not unoften or unusual for us to know someone who has suffered some of these traumas or who passed away from their injuries.

"The phone call you least want to make is the call to the family to say that someone has died or has serious injuries" - Dr Lindsay Tyrrell

"That can have a devastating effect on our team, but they are an amazing group of staff who come together and look after each other."

Mr Probert said the department dealt with road trauma 24-7.

Injuries range from the psychological because of a near-miss, right through to catastrophic and fatal injuries.

For example, fractures in major bones, major chest injuries and major head injuries.

Survivors might take a few days or a week off work to recover, while others might complete rehabilitation or suffer a permanent loss of functionality to a part of their body, meaning they can never return to the same job.

Registered nurse Bronwyn Burgess said dealing with road trauma was very confronting, but the department's strong team environment helped.

"There are a few incidents that came to mind when I think of motor vehicle accidents," she said.

"I still think about them, but we do develop the coping strategy to deal with that.

"Accidents can happen to anyone."

Graduate nurse Courtney Hayes said she liked to help people through difficult situations.

"Easter is a good time for family, but you don't want that marred by an accident or crash," she said.

Registered nurse Kerryn Gatenby said sometimes staff could be left with horrible memories, but debriefing was important.

"I worry because I have a young family and some of the stupid decisions people make affect other people in enormous ways," she said.

"We all have to use the road.

"One person's decision can affect a lot of people."

Dr Tyrrell said there were genuine accidents, but others were avoidable.

"When it's a creation of their own misadventure, that is the most frustrating," he said.

"When a crash happens as a result of stupidity."

Mr Probert said road fatalities had a catastrophic, lifelong impact.

"Twenty, 30 years down the track people still reflect upon motor vehicle crashes and the loss of life," he said.

"Don't speed, wear your seatbelt, don't drink, don't drive, avoid distractions, don't use your mobile phone.

"Maybe you have to put up with the kids being a bit gnarly in the back, because turning around to placate them may be that moment which causes you to be distracted and causes a catastrophic event."

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