Breaking the message every emergency services worker dreads

PC Norton new.jpg

PC Norton from the Bedfordshire Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Roads Policing Unit talks about a drink drive incident he will never forget.

“Any road policing unit available for a serious RTC? A vehicle has mounted the pavement hitting a family. CPR is being conducted on a small child at present.”

As I heard those words I turned cold as I momentarily thought of my own children before responding to the control room’s request. I set off on what was a sunny summer afternoon to a scene where lives had changed forever.

As I negotiated the road network I listened in to my radio. All I could hear were the heightened voices of my colleagues relaying what they were witnessing.

“Ambulance are working on the child, it’s not looking good. The driver of the car is out of the vehicle, it’s suspected he could be under the influence.”

I requested the control room called for the attendance of the collision investigation unit. All collisions involving serious injuries and loss of life are subject to a detailed investigation.

I’m within thirty seconds of the scene when a further update comes from local officers who have already arrived.

“The driver has blown over the limit, he’s been arrested for drink drive and were going to take him straight to custody.”

As I arrive I see a local response car. Seated in the back is the driver of the car involved in the collision, handcuffed with his head looking down towards the floor.

Ironically the driver was uninjured.

As I looked over to the paramedics, the injured girl was being placed into the ambulance which was about to depart for the nearest trauma hospital.

Other roads policing units had arrived and began the process of ensuring witnesses and the scene of the incident were preserved for examination.

I ran forward to the ambulance as a paramedic rushed into the driver’s seat, and asked which hospital they were going to. The paramedic responded requesting for a police escort as time was critical.

As we arrived at the hospital, the rear door of the ambulance opened and its ramp was lowered. It revealed paramedic’s working feverishly to treat their young patient.

I remember looking over to the young girl, dressed in bright summer clothes. As a parent myself, it is something I will never forget.

Her parents had travelled with the child and emerged from the ambulance; no words can describe the fear in their eyes.

Despite the sizable team of medics putting all of their effort and expertize into treating the child, it soon became clear the young girls injuries were not survivable.

The senior consultant and member of nursing staff spoke with the parents and broke the message every emergency services worker dreads.

In company with hospital staff I began the process of providing support to the child’s parents by taking them to a side room referred to as the relative’s room.

It was designed and equipped to be as comfortable as possible to support relatives and love ones in such circumstances.

Both parents were still deep in shock. The cruel reality of losing their child seemed simply impossible. I attempted to explain my role of support, offering to assist with any needs they had and answering their questions as best as I could.

Dealing with any death is difficult however the loss of a young life is especially challenging. In this case a child’s life, full of hopes and dreams, cherished and loved by her parents had been destroyed by the actions of another’s recklessness decision.

The driver of the vehicle was eventually charged with causing death by dangerous driving, pleading guilty at court and sentenced to a lengthy term of imprisonment.

I’m sure that if the driver had considered the risk he was posing, or known the devastation he would have caused, he would have never driven that day.

Yet the moment he decided to get into his vehicle and drive under the influence of alcohol meant he was willing to be a danger to others.

Drink driving ruins lives, don’t take the chance and put yourself, your friends, families and others at risk.

If you’re driving have none for the road.


One thought on “Breaking the message every emergency services worker dreads

  1. Carol Fleet

    A policeman called Dave broke into my sons house after we had tried unsuccessfully to get in and I will never forget the look on his face as he stepped outside the door and informed me that my only son, Tristan, was dead on his bed. From an intracerebral haemorrhage as it turned out ( marked down as natural causes). I don’t envy anyone that has to inform parents, husbands, wives, partners, children etc of their worst nightmare.
    I can only imagine that is something you’d never get used to


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