IT WOULD have been a textbook response like any other day – but this was not an ordinary day.
It was Christmas Day in 2011 and paramedic Brian Bridges and his colleagues were responding to reports of a car crash on the New England Highway South of Tamworth.
When they arrived they found the car had crashed into a tree and the young male driver had died at the scene.
On the back car seat were Christmas presents to be given to his loved ones.
“It was clearly a picture that was painted in our memory for the rest of the day,” Mr Bridges, a veteran paramedic of more than 30 years, said.
“Unfortunately for that family they were, instead of unwrapping presents in a happy and enjoyable environment, they were grieving and planning for the funeral after someone’s death.”
In a message of road safety to residents on country roads, particularly in the holiday season, Mr Bridges urged motorists not to take any risks.
He said paramedics in country areas were not immune to the trauma seen on country roads and it was more common in peak periods.
It was a time he said that paramedics can “dread” because of the inevitable call outs to road trips gone wrong.
“We are often called out to some nasty accidents over the holiday period,” he said.
“Some accidents have been fatal in the past.
“It is a time that we don’t look forward to, in terms of working.”
The experienced paramedic said, sadly, many of the accidents seen by paramedics on our roads are preventable.
“We just ask that travelers be very mindful and vigilant during their travels,” Mr Bridges told The Leader.
“A lot of accidents occur on country roads and a lot of them are fatalities and they do occur on bends.
“We urged travelers to be mindful and to be well prepared.
“Plan your travel and take regular breaks. Drive to the conditions, day and night because fatigue can strike at any time.
“If the traffic becomes somewhat bottlenecked, it might be time to take a bit of a break and have a spell.
“We want you to stay off the phones, no calls or texting.
“Of course no drink driving.
“The most precious presents that you are carrying at Christmas, in that car, are you and your family.”
Mr Bridges said some accidents can also caused by two things – being unfamiliar with the road and also a little too familiar and becoming complacent.
“If you’re not familiar, take a break,” he said.
“If there’s a couple of drivers, rotate them, rest breaks are enough, particularly with children on board.
“(And) be mindful of wildlife on country roads, particularly at night time.”