Launceston paramedic talks about road crashes, as part of In Your Hands campaign

STAY SAFE: Launceston paramedic Peter James says Christmas is often the busiest time for Ambulance Tasmania when it comes to road crashes. Picture: Scott Gelston
STAY SAFE: Launceston paramedic Peter James says Christmas is often the busiest time for Ambulance Tasmania when it comes to road crashes. Picture: Scott Gelston

After more than 40 years in the job, Launceston paramedic Peter James has seen hundreds of road crashes.

“Behind the uniform, there’s a person, and we go home at the end of the day as well, and it does build up,” he said.

“You learn to live with it to an extent, but you pay the price too.”

Mr James still remembers the first road death he attended.

It was decades ago in Devonport, when a young girl had been thrown out of the back of a car on impact, and instantly killed.

“Her family would never get over that.”

Mr James said arriving at fatal crashes was difficult for emergency service workers.

“It’s the waste of the person’s potential,” he said.

“Also, this person has died or been seriously injured, the family doesn’t know yet, but within an hour or two, they’re going to be told some news that’s going to change their lives forever.”

Mr James said the festive season was the busiest time of year for paramedics when it came to road crashes.

“I’ve seen crashes from people going home after Christmas parties. It’s the build-up to Christmas - it’s very alcohol-oriented.

“One guy, I remember, was coming back from a party, had an accident and his wife was killed. Now he’s got to live with that for the rest of his life.

“Most people that live locally know the conditions - some don’t drive to them - but this time of year, everyone’s out and about and it’s definitely busier on the roads, and in the build-up to Christmas, you see a lot more people on the roads, and then there are the roadworks in the Midlands.

“People need to leave the aggression at home, leave the alcohol to when you’re not driving and enjoy yourself without the keys. Think about it. Enjoy the time without motor transport being involved. It’s not only your own life, it’s the lives of your family, other people, it just destroys families.”

Mr James said road trauma for people didn’t just come from fatalities.

“Not everyone gets killed, the story goes on for years and years with people who are disabled because of motor accidents.”

If you or someone you know has been impacted by a road tragedy, Road Trauma Support Tasmania is available on 6777 6252.