Belmont, Perth,

Stay safe this Christmas

Don’t just survive Christmas, pledge to stay safe

With Christmas a time for giving, St John Ambulance Western Australia wants people to give a commitment to their loved ones that they’ll get home safely from their Festive celebrations.

During the last long weekend in WA, the Queen’s Birthday Public Holiday in October, six people died on the State’s roads and didn’t return home.

Over the four day period, St John attended at 72 motor vehicle accidents in WA, with almost 100 people hospitalised. More than half of those suffered serious injuries.

St John Ambulance Wheatbelt Community Paramedic Pat O’Dal, who has often responded to road accidents in his region, said critical injuries can have a long and devastating impact on the victims.

“Just because the accident isn’t fatal, the extent of the injuries suffered can mean that instead of enjoying the festive season, you could be recovering in hospital and facing weeks or even months of rehabilitation.

“As paramedics, many of the patients we attend to following a serious car crash, we see again during hospital transfers for ongoing rehabilitation services. For many, their lives are never the same again.”

Mr O’Dal added Christmas is a time for family and friends so commit to being there for your loved ones, beyond the Festive Season.

“Make a pledge that you’ll get to your destination safely and return home again. It really is the best gift you can give – and don’t just say it – stick to your promise behind the wheel this Christmas.”

While the impact of alcohol and speeding on WA roads are always a concern, Mr O’Dal said fatigue poses a significant risk as Christmas falls on a Friday this year.

“St John is concerned that people – exhausted after a busy week of work plus Christmas shopping and events – will then try on Christmas Eve to drive to the city from the country or depart Perth on holiday.

“If you’re feeling tired, please delay your trip until you’ve had time to rest. And if you begin feeling drowsy while you’re driving, pull over for a brief nap or swap drivers,” said Mr O’Dal.

Royal Perth Hospital Director of Trauma Services, Dr Sudhakar Rao, also advised drivers to show caution as many of the critical cases attended by his team at RPH are the result of major vehicle accidents.

“The Christmas holiday period should be a happy time spent with family and friends, but it has become a time when many Western Australians die or are seriously injured on our roads,” said Dr Rao.

“For every serious incident there is an enormous physical and emotional cost to the patient, and their families and loved ones, not to mention a significant financial cost to our health system.”

With long distances to travel between country towns in WA, Mr O’Dal advised travellers heading into regional areas to pack a well-stocked first aid kit.

“All kits should contain bandages and dressings, a thermal blanket, alcohol swabs and disposable gloves. It also equips you to provide basic care, while waiting for the ambulance, if you are first on the scene.

Campers should also pack instant cold packs, heavier bandages, whistle, compass, glow stick and torch.

Visit the St John Ambulance website for more information on first aid kits or to arrange to have your kit restocked.