Gardaí and emergency services in Limerick delivered a graphic road safety show to 1800 Transition Year students over two days from across Limerick City and County as part of the LifeSaver road safety programme.
The multi-agency road safety show is an RSA Leading Light award-winning programme which was developed by Limerick Garda Tony Minitir. Over the past few years, the programme has developed and is one of the leading road safety programmes being delivered by gardaí in the Limerick region.
The event is broken up into two parts, the first is outdoors of which is a very realistic reconstruction of a fatal road traffic collision and the second part is an indoor presentation which is a combination of realistic experiences from members of front line emergency services and some hard-hitting road safety adverts from around the world which may not be normally viewed in Ireland.
The speakers include Garda Sergeant Tony Miniter, Croom Garda Station; Garda Paul Baynham, Mayorstone Garda Station; Advanced Paramedic Keith Mullane from the National Ambulance Service in Limerick and Station Officer John Lyons from Rathkeale Fire Station in Limerick.
Special Guest speaker on both mornings was collision survivor Fergal Cagney, who was involved in a very serious road traffic collision in 2005 where he severed his spine. Fergal was left a quadriplegic following the crash and has 24-hour nursing care at his home.
Three professional actors also play the part of the casualties.
The Lifesaver Project Road Safety Event which is a collaboration between An Garda Síochána, National Ambulance Service and Limerick Fire and Rescue Service is also delivered in partnership with Limerick City and County Council.
The event was held on the 14th & 15th November at the South Court Hotel and Conference Center in Limerick City. Approximately 1,800 students from across the city and county witnessed first-hand what the scene of a serious road traffic collision is like and a presentation of what happens to a person and those around them when they are involved in a road traffic collision.
The simulated crash involves three people, a brother and sister in one vehicle and a drunk driver in another. Following the crash, the vehicle in which the brother and sister are travelling results in the driver being injured and trapped and, sadly, the front seat passenger is fatally injured.
This causes huge anxiety and stress to the trapped driver who is fighting for her own life. The other driver, who caused the collision has a minor injury, is in a clear drunken state and is walking around the scene before the Gardai arrive. The audience are very close to what is happening, and they can also hear every word and breath of the ‘casualties’, who are played by professional actors who are wearing flesh-mics.
The emergency services are quick to arrive on the scene. Although this is an re-enactment, gardaí and the fire and ambulance personnel treat the scene as a real-life situation. A risk assessment of the scene is carried out and each service consults with each other.
A garda, a lead advanced paramedic and a fire officer are all ‘miked-up’ so the audience can hear what they are talking about and dealing with. The fire and rescue personnel and the ambulance personnel take care of the people who need attention and the Gardai deal with the drunk driver. He is spoken to by the Gardaí and a road side breath test is carried out. The driver fails this and is subsequently arrested, handcuffed and placed in the back of the patrol car.
Soon after this while the other members are trying to get the driver from the car on a spinal board the mum of the brother and sister arrive on the scene. The mother is hysterical, and her screams can be heard across the scene as she cries out for her son who is dead and her daughter who is seriously injured.
The Mother is comforted by Garda Paul Baynham as she kneels on the ground with her child in her arms. Soon after this they go away together in the ambulance and Garda Paul Baynham briefly speaks to the audience about what they have seen and ways to try and prevent any one of them having to experience this scene for real. The audience is then invited to go into the conference center for the second part of the event.
Once inside, students are briefed on the collision they have just witnessed. This aspect of the show is a combination of realistic experiences from members of front line emergency services and also some hard-hitting road safety ads from around the world.
Delivering road safety education and advice to second level students is essential, and delivering it to Transition year students is probably one of the hardest audiences to get through to, because of their age, inexperience on the road and sometimes, their attitudes.
During the show, Garda Sgt Tony Minitir urged people to slow down for their own survival. ‘Please slow down and obey the rules of the road for your own survival as much as for everybody else. A special word of thanks goes to Fergal Cagney who shows extreme courage talking to the audience about his collision again and again’.
Garda Paul Baynham said young drivers must gain respect for vehicles. ‘Many of the students will embark on their driving careers within the next two-years, young drivers must gain a respect for vehicles and see the potential devastation that they can bring’ he said.
Ambulance Paramedeic Keith Mullane recounted late night collisions and how he deals with what happens when a phone rings. ‘I’ve been to collisions late at night and I’ve heard a phone ringing on the floor of the car with “mom” or “my special girl” calling and I think, what will I say?’.
Organisers and participants of the LifeSaver Road Safety event are happy with its reception and has received very positive feedback from the people who attended on both days. This is a very hard-hitting road safety presentation that is delivered by full time emergency services personnel who witness the devastation that is caused from road traffic collisions.
(All Photos: Courtesy LifeSaver Programme – Limerick Gardaí)
Emergency Times wishes to thank Garda Paul Baynham for his time in providing this report.
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