Wednesday, 17 January 2018


by Dave Wheeler
   I hope I will not be seen as blowing my own trumpet or being falsely modest when I describe the two unfortunate events I came across on the morning of the 17/1/18, because although I did lend a hand my actions were by no means heroic. True heroes risk their lives to help others, whereas my actions on that day did not risk my life or limb at all, nor did the events involve a lot of work on my part. 
   Apart from my actions being far less praiseworthy than the actions of people who really risk their lives saving others, they are also far less praiseworthy than those who give many hours of their time working for charities without any financial reward. The latter are often ignored when civic awards are dispensed, whereas official awards are often bestowed upon those who hold high office and who do nothing more than what they are paid to do. I am describing the events I came across to emphasise the fragility of our existences and how everything we take for granted can be taken from us in an instant.
    Although there will be people who know the people involved in the events I will mention I will not give out their names or describe where in Canberra the events occurred, as I wish to give those involved some privacy. 
    To begin to describe what occurred on the 17/1/18, the day started off well. I like to do a small amount of work occasionally to exercise my old brain and body, as does my surveyor cobber who is also a 1952 model and who also has no desire to work on a full time basis. 
   That morning we travelled from his place to the new Berra suburb of Moncrieff where we did about 2 hours of survey work on townhouses that are in the process of being built. We were working under ideal conditions. The sun was shining, it was not too hot, there was a gentle breeze blowing and I could also hear birdsong as there was no noisy machinery around us. I would not have been dead for quids!
    During our work an attractive young woman took some photos of what we were doing from outside the fence surrounding the building site. A sarcastic person working near us suggested she was perving on our partly decayed 1952 bodies. I thought that was very unkind. We all slowly decay until our biological machine comes to a stop. We then decay far more rapidly.
   Apparently we were working on or near the townhouse the attractive young lady and her husband are having built, and she is photographing it through its various stages of construction. 
    On the way back to my mate's house I found myself thinking how nice it would have been to have had a working life that consisted of workdays that were as brief and as pleasant as we had experienced that morning. Of course we could have very short working days if our species was not so greedy and did not want more and more useless gadgets. Technology was supposed to allow machinery to do most of the work for us but we’re still waiting for the days of leisure. Bertrand Russell called for a 4 hour day in the 1930’s!
   I’m wandering away from the subject. The point I was going to make was that after having experienced an almost perfect early morning the later part of that morning was going to be decidedly unpleasant as a result of my witnessing the results of two unfortunate events, one after the other, with one event being far more serious than the other.    
     Where am I now? Yes, after I returned to my mate's place I got into my car to drive home and in doing so first drove to a T intersection and turned right into the main road that goes through his suburb.  Before I did so I gave way to a largish truck on my right.
    I then heard its tyres squeal, and after looking to the left saw it swerve to attempt to avoid colliding with a parked ACT Government ute which had its emergency lights flashing. It would seem the driver of the truck was distracted for a moment before he realised where he was going. 
    It was too late! The truck hit the right rear of the ute with an almighty force and continued on. I could see the ute’s rear end go into the air then come down during the process. Had the truck hit the ute square-on it would have been much more serious and I doubt an occupant of the ute would have been able to walk away from it.
     It has been suggested to me that the driver of the truck may have been looking at his mobile phone instead of focussing on driving his truck. I have no proof of that having happened.
    I immediately parked my car and ran towards the parked ute to see if anyone was in it, because even though it was not a direct hit I thought it probable an occupant would have suffered injuries given the force of the impact. The driver of the truck by that stage however, had parked his truck and beaten me to the ute and was talking to its driver, apologising to him for what he had just done. The ute driver seemed okay.
    I also spoke to the ute driver, a pleasant bloke, and he told me his back and neck were sore, although he did not appear to be in severe pain. I gave him my name and contact details as a witness if he needed me, because sometimes when humans are exposed to physical trauma their bodies produce chemistry that prevents them from feeling the full effect of their injuries until several hours after they have occurred.
    Although I obviously felt sorry for the driver of the ute I also felt very sorry for the bloke who ran into it, as he was visibly upset about what had happened. I became aware that if I believed there was a god watching over us I would be saying to myself,“There but for the grace of God go I.” 
   We all have moments when we lose focus for a fraction of a second or longer. Most of the time nothing comes of it, but sometimes when something is in our way tragedy can occur. As I have said, had he hit the ute square-on it could have been fatal, and the truck driver, who like most people probably believes we have contra causal free will, would have had to have lived with what he had done for the rest of his life. 
Pictured above is the ACT Government ute that was hit while parked.
Pictured above is the truck that hit the previously shown ute.
THERE WAS A LOT MORE TO COME AFTER THAT! After I had removed the scattered glass caused by the accident off the road and left the scene I proceeded down the same road for what was probably less than a kilometre. I slowed because I could hear a loud crying and could see a young lady aged about 30 sitting in the gutter in the street attended by a couple who appeared to be in their mid 70’s. Although I was already in the process of stopping I was then waved down by the male part of the couple. He and his wife seemed to be somewhat traumatised and desperately wanting assistance. 
   After I parked my car off the road and went towards the young lady sitting in the gutter I expected to be confronted by an hysterical ice addict, and I was preparing for violence from some mad boyfriend who may have been in the background who had bashed her or who had been bashed by her. I have a history of coming across violence more often than I would like. 
    Although the young lady was not a druggie and she had no violent boyfriend in the background in retrospect I wish I only had to deal with hysterical and violent ice addicts on that day, because I was confronted by something much worse. It was an horrific site! I could see that the poor young lady sitting in the gutter had had her leg run over at the ankle joint, causing the base of her shinbone to protrude right out into the air above her foot, and her foot to virtually hang off her leg, seemingly secured only by her skin. 
    I did not want to move her off the road to put her in the shade and into the recovery position, which is the usual procedure for most injuries, as it would have obviously involved moving and thus bending what remained of her ankle joint. And other than her already being in terrible agony I did not want to increase the level of pain she was suffering nor did I want to do anything that would increase the chances of her having to have her foot amputated or of severing an artery. All I could do was shade her with my body and try and take the weight off her semi-detached foot by putting the joint of my arm behind her knee and pulling it upwards. The old bloke who was in the car that had run over her was by that stage giving her water.
    Given the agony she was in I admired the young lady for the control she had over herself, with her priority being the welfare of her two girls, who seemed to be aged around 4 and 7. They were on the nearby nature strip being looked after by the older lady who had been in the car that had run over their mum’s leg.
   The girls were obviously very upset, and when I heard the younger one cry out loud and say she didn’t want Mummy to die it pulled at my heartstrings to say the least. I tried to reassure her that Mummy would be okay, but I was supporting Mummy’s leg at the time, and as the little girl could see what had happened to her mum's foot I do not know how convincing I was.
    I may be wrong on the details in regard to what occurred as I did not witness the accident and it was of no interest to me at the time. It would seem however, that one of her girls had run out in front of the car and Mum had gone out to save her from being run over by pulling her out of the way. It would seem that the little girl was lightly hit by the car and uninjured, but Mum had had her leg run over in the process of saving her.
   The ambulance was rung, as was her husband and the police. I also tried to ring the young lady’s mum, although she was not answering. I left a message, and after her mum rang back I was able to put her onto her badly injured daughter.
    For a few minutes the car that had run over the young lady was parked in the middle of the left side of the road beside her, which meant that no car could get past due to there being a concrete median strip in the middle of the road. Meanwhile, I tried to continue to support her leg and stop approaching cars before they reached us so I could indicate to them that they should either go over the median strip to get around us or reverse their way out. I was also trying to keep the flies away from the blood that was coming from where the young lady’s bone was protruding. 
    Luckily I was wearing my high vis shirt, which was required at the building site we had been on. I had no wish to become another statistic.
    One terrible piece of womanhood who was trying to proceed down the street yelled out to me, “Can’t you get them to move their car?” I thought to myself, “Some poor bastard has to come home to that!” I did not want the car moved at that stage. I was glad it was there to protect us from being hit by the approaching cars. 
    After we had some more assistance to stop the approaching traffic I got the older bloke to move his car from the road, and I proceeded to assist in signalling to oncoming cars to stop and then very slowly proceed around the injured young lady as I simultaneously continued to apply upward force to behind her knee to take the pressure off her almost severed foot. 
  I don’t want to condemn the ACT Ambulance service or its paramedics in any way as they do an excellent job, but they seemed to take forever to arrive! I rang the ambulance service again to let them know how serious the injury was, just in case they misunderstood the initial call and did not realise what had occurred and had thus given a less serious case higher priority. The lady I spoke to at the ambulance service however, assured me they were fully aware of the seriousness of the injury and that the ambulance was on the way with its siren going.
    I reiterate, I am not having a go at the Ambo service, but I will say that there must be a shortage of ambulances and paramedics for them to have taken as long as they did to come. They were obviously on some other emergency or were a long way away, and if there are insufficient numbers of paramedics and ambulances then obviously someone is going to have to wait. They can only do what they can do.
   I began thinking about how the ACT Government spends our taxes on such things as trams we don’t need and other things that are non-vital, and at times useless. For example, although I agree with the concept of gay marriage it’s not up to our local government to celebrate it by spending our tax money on rainbow signs on buses and roundabouts. Amongst other things I would rather they put the money towards hiring more paramedics, buying more ambulances and installing air conditioning in schools to stop kids sweltering during our summers. (As kids don’t vote most governments could not give a rat’s arse about their welfare). 
    And why did they create a $300,000.00 pa job for Brendan Smyth, who is our “Commissioner for international engagement,”  when the ACT economy exports next to nothing? Other than the fact that virtually nobody is worth $300,000.00 pa, that money could have easily covered the costs of another two paramedics and another ambulance. 
    I worked for the ACT government for several years and I was to find many of the high level bureaucrats were a waste of space, oxygen and tax money. What some of them were and still are paid could pay for several paramedics, and paramedics actually work for a living and do a job that is an absolute necessity.
   The Lib’s were probably worse when they were in office. I remember them selling profit-making government assets and government-owned buildings and trying to reduce the pay and conditions of the lower level ACT public servants while they continued to reward useless toadying higher level fat-cats.
    The coppers arrived before the ambulance, and one pleasant young copper did a tag team with me and relieved me from my job of propping up the young lady’s leg. I was able to support her opposing shoulder after that as she had been forced to sit herself up on her elbow due to where she was and the nature of her injury. 
   When the paramedics eventually came they did an excellent job of attending to her. I saw them inject her with a powerful drug to relieve her pain and send her into unconsciousness, which must have been a great relief for her. 
Pictured above are the paramedics and coppers attending to the badly injured young lady after she had been anaesthetised.
     As I have indicated, I admire the young lady for how she handled her situation. Most people would be hysterical under such circumstances, but she was mainly concerned with her kids and was able to turn her mind off her extreme pain when she needed to answer the questions the paramedics and coppers asked her. And she did so in a very clear and articulate manner while her foot hung off her leg. 
   Although I did not need the reminder, we are all flesh and blood and very vulnerable. I was not fully conscious of that in my youth, and when I think of how my mates and I as 17 year olds would ride motorbikes and drive old cars at very high speed we were very lucky we did not cause deaths or serious injury to innocent people and/or ourselves. Most of us should not have been allowed out without a keeper. 
    The coppers also did a very professional job while they were there, and two of them were thoughtful enough to ask me at different times if I thought I might need counselling after the event. Little did they know that if a counsellor tried to counsel me the counsellor would need counselling after the experience.  
    If anyone knows the poor young lady could you please let me know if they were able to save her foot?
UPDATE 19/1/18
  I was very pleased to get a phone call from the young lady tonight. She told me that they had saved her foot and that she was home with her husband and kids. She got my phone number from her mum’s phone from when I rang her mum at the time of the accident.
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