Paramedic Rolan Murcott (left) and Westpac Rescue helicopter crew chief Roger Fry wait for their next emergency.
Paramedic Rolan Murcott (left) and Westpac Rescue helicopter crew chief Roger Fry wait for their next emergency. The Northern Star

Plea to 'take care' from rescue chopper crews

AN intensive care paramedic has spoken out about recent tragedies on our roads and his frustration that motorists aren't responding to road safety campaigns.

The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter was called out to 13 jobs in the week leading to last weekend.

While not all of the missions were motor vehicle accidents, intensive care paramedic Rolan Murcott wanted to drive the road safety message home after the two motorcycle fatalities last week.

"It's unrealistic to think we could ever stop the carnage but we need to try and mitigate it," Mr Murcott said.

"Police strategies are trying to combat the problems but at the end of the day it comes back to driver behaviour."

For Mr Murcott, 36, the trauma of working in rescue operations was all part of the job.

"You go in knowing it is what we do and you don't focus on it," he said.

"We attend some tragic events and it's the same for the pilots and the crew. Sometimes there is nothing we can do. The impact of some mistakes is just huge.

"But it's not all bad - in among it all there are good jobs where we save lives. It's rewarding to do this work and that's why we do it."

Mr Murcott said the stress the intensive care paramedics experienced was not bad stress.

"The stress makes you focus so you can prioritise better," he said.

"And we always debrief when we return to the base - usually it's done among ourselves and our peers. We chat about it and then move on.

There are support networks and grief counsellors in place if we need them."

Helicopter chief crew person Roger Fry, 48, has been with the service for 12 years and said the volume of incidents on the Northern Rivers ebbs and flows.

"The work never stops as I'm on call seven days a week but my family absorbs my time when I'm at home," Mr Fry said.

Ballina psychologist Lynne Charleston gets called in to assist with trauma responses across the Northern Rivers. She described the work of the emergency services as 'really difficult'.

"They are professionals who are well trained to handle their job," she said.

"And there are certain types of people who do those jobs better than others."

Ms Charleston said the trauma of dealing with fatal accident after fatal accident could eventually take its toll.

"There is only so much stress you can deal with over a long period and research suggests that people in high-stress jobs need to be well trained and have a strong support system so they can be looked after."

Mr Murcott said the most frustrating part was hearing feedback after the accident that speed, fatigue or drugs were a factor in an accident.

"It's almost disheartening," he said.

"People just need to be mindful of the consequences of their actions.

"A lot of motorists have the attitude: 'It won't happen to me'.

"But in this job, we see it does."

The first tragedy to hit the local community was the biker killed along Jiggi Road.

The second happened on the road from Nimbin.


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