I was yarning on Skype the other day to a mate who was in bit of a state after having been one of the first people to arrive at not just one, but two, road accidents in the past few days.
The second accident had just occurred outside his camp when three backpackers rolled a campervan they’d hired. For 20 minutes, he and his wife carried out first-aid while summoning help. Two of the backpackers were stunned with a few cuts and abrasions, but okay. The third had been unconscious and was badly cut up and later lost a leg in hospital.
Meanwhile, I had passed a number of prangs in the last week of travelling – one was particularly bad where a small car had gone underneath a truck; but we were lucky, as the police and ambulance were in attendance and we were waved on.
Stories such as these hardly raise a headline they are so common. If someone is killed, it’ll get a mention in the local newspaper but that is about all.
So on your travels around Australia (or anywhere for that matter), a road accident is a very likely scenario for you to come across. In the years we’ve been travelling Australia, it is road accidents that have been the common emergency we’ve had to deal with; not snake bites or saving anyone from dying of thirst. Just common bloody road accidents.
Sadly, you don’t have to be out in the middle of Australia to get involved in a road accident either – they can happen close to home as well. But, the more kilometres you do travelling, the higher the chances of being the first one on the scene.
We were the first to arrive at an accident on a back road where a car rolled over. The husband was in shock and the wife was cradling the kid who had been, basically, scalped. There was a lot of blood and after some initial first-aid, we got the kid and his mum into the Cruiser I was driving at the time and headed the 70km to the nearest hospital.
It all ended well but it shows how important a bit of basic first-aid is – and how a first-aid course does pay off! If it’s been a few years since you’ve done one, or if you have never done one, then I’d strongly suggest you get off your butt and get yourself enrolled (visit www.stjohn.org.au or www.redcross.org.au).
Another accident we came across was in the north-west of WA. It was another rollover and, while we weren’t the first on the scene and a bit of first-aid was being administered, we quickly realised that some more assistance was required.
We were well out of mobile phone range (a situation normal for touring not-so-remote and remote Australia) so I plunged behind the back seat and dragged the sat-phone out of its normal hiding spot. Within minutes, there was an ambulance and police on the way, who all turned up 30 minutes later.
So the lesson there is to have a back-up communication plan. UHF radios and mobile phones work fine in some situations but are useless for long-range work. Get a HF radio, a satphone (there are some great economical packages around), or, what’s really impressed us lately, one of those new-fangled GPS messengers such as a Spot (au.findmespot.com/en/).
You never know, some first-aid, a good communication plan… and the life you save could be your own!
Check out the full feature in issue #92 September 2015 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine.