The heartbreaking job of an emergency service worker
COMFORTING a distressed woman who was in shock after witnessing her partner being killed by a truck on the Pacific Hwy on Monday night, a volunteer firefighter showed the commitment and compassion of our emergency services volunteers.
Rural Fire Service Northern Zone Superintendent, Michael Brett said incidents such as the tragic double fatality attended by members of Woodburn RFS Brigade, saw immediate support from the organisation.
Supt Brett said providing emotional and physical support to those traumatised is one of the jobs a career or volunteer firefighter often faces such as when a Woodburn brigade member cared for the distressed partner of the one of the deceased men.
"She spent some time consoling her," he said.
"After the incident they had a 'hot debrief' on the side of the road to discuss what they went through and what they saw.
"Part of my role is to make contact with the officers of the brigade, find out what support they need, and see they get it.
"The RFS also has a critical incident support service for all staff and members to access anytime."
He said Woodburn is "probably one of the busiest brigades".
"It has some highly experienced members," he said.
"Fortunately incidents like this are not happening as much thanks to the highway upgrade."
Richmond Police District Inspector David Vandergriend said all staff who attended major incidents such as a fatality are registered on a database to ensure they receive a health and welfare check.
"We have an Employee Assistance Program for NSW Police Force employees and their immediate families which is strictly confidential," he said.
"There are also opportunities for formal discussions as well as a more casual chat over a coffee with a peer support officer or police chaplain," he said
State Emergency Services chaplain Paul von Bratt is also an experienced Trauma Recovery Specialist.
"The SES has as part of the basic training a prerequisite called Pre-Critical Incident Education before they can go out into the field," he said.
"This is a foundation for understanding what we as human beings can react to at a nasty incident such as a body recovery, MVA or the death of a child.
"In this we also talk about the role of peers, chaplains and our 24 hour emergency line an of our members can call."