Priscilla Grimme

Danielle Haggerty

Make good choices about the path you take in life

My name is Priscilla and I have been a volunteer with the Frankston SES for the past 23 years, I am a mother of 10 year old twins, and I am scared for them when they get to your age and start travelling with their friends in their cars.

I joined the SES when I was not much older than you, I was 18. After joining I was always the one that didn’t drink, so I was the designated driver, so while my friends were drinking and partying, I was usually out in my SES overalls cutting stupid dead teenagers out of cars.

This has been a regular occurrence over the years… more times than not I would be asleep cosy in my pj’s, and receive a pager message that we were needed at a road crash to cut someone out of a car.

SES is the largest provider of road rescue in Victoria and Frankston Unit has to be the busiest. The Mornington peninsula seems to always have the highest road toll and that needs to change. I have been Lucky I have never come across an accident where I know the driver, but I guess it’s inevitable that this will happen ….

My Friday and Saturday nights have consisted of wondering if there is going to be another crash tonight, whose life will end and whose parent of that child wishes their life would end, due to losing their child.

It’s not always about the rescue, well not for me anyway. It’s about the whole picture. Sure my job is to cut people out of smashed up cars, but what about their family and friends…..

I will always remember the mothers and Fathers, friends and family arriving on scene, screaming for their loved one, when their loved one can’t hear them and never will, ever again.

These orange overalls are not my first pair, my first pair was clean and neat and it didn’t take long before they were destroyed with blood and guts on them… bits that will never ever wash off.

There have been so many recallable jobs that I have been too, some of which the family of crash victims are here today…..

See this picture behind me? Let me tell you about it….

I trained SES volunteers on road rescue and my ‘trainees’ came with me to this one, some decided road rescue wasn’t for them after this job, and some are still around.

Saturday nights seemed the night where we always knew that if our pager went off than it meant something pretty bad was about to be before us…. it was an eerie night, after being paged and ‘emergency event, road accident possible persons trapped” I was driving my personal car to our SES headquarters in Seaford, it seemed to take forever, getting into our SES overalls with our pjs underneath was always an effort in itself, along with the decision as to whether or not  to go to the toilet before we left was always a no as we had to get there and help where we could, and minutes save lives…..

I jumped in the rescue truck and we were off, not knowing what we might come across, we looked at our pagers with the address of where we were to attend and off we went….

This job was in Karingal a quiet street, a 50 k zone, that’s me on the bonnet of the car, trying to save a young girls life. I will always remember her eyes staring at me crying in agony saying help me…..please.

That night well actually the early hours of that morning we were called to a single car crash with possible persons trapped, we were the first emergency service to arrive on scene to a little purple car wrapped around a tree., there were no surprises to me that there was a p plate on it.

The female driver was severely trapped and had life threatening injuries, the car was wrapped around the tree, so much that it was stuck, and we had to use a winch to get it off. She was lucky to be wearing a seatbelt, which was probably the only reason that she was alive when we arrived, as her head sustained numerous visual injuries… I could hear the ambo’s talking saying it wasn’t looking good for her and she needed to be out of the vehicle NOW.

This advice changed our plan as to how we were going to get her out of the car, she had now become critical and had lost consciousness…..

The scene was chaotic somehow news had travelled fast through the Karingal community, family and friends started turning up on scene…. All of this while her parents were by the car, screaming for their daughter and being held back by local police officers. I will never forget the looks or horror and traumatised tears from innocent bystanders who lived in the houses at the crash scene.

The woman although severely trapped and had life threatening injuries, she was quiet, which was always concerning, which made the urgency to get her out of the car quickly but safely was the priority.

It was so noisy with our generators running so that the jaws of life could start cutting the wrecked car away from the woman’s body, but we had to get her out. Bits of metal we were relocating made popping noises every time a cut was done. We used a ram to push the panels that were wedged into the tree away so we could get her out. After cutting 6 pillars of the vehicle off we were able to remove the roof, this allowed the paramedics to get in and look after her medically and give her the medication and life support she so desperately needed to try to save her life. We then put her onto a spine board and transported her onto an ambulance trolley where the numerous paramedics then took control and she was taken to hospital.

I don’t know what ever happened to her, and we usually don’t, which I think is a good thing… our job is hard enough mentally without knowing too much about the heartache caused to crash victims their families and friends.

I went home something like 8 hours after that initial page, I was exhausted…..

Don’t be another statistic of our road toll

Don’t let your parents, family and friends watch your lifeless body be put into a bag and be driven away

Make good choices about the path you take in life

drive 4 life