THE carnage and gore in Tuesday's bus/truck crash along the Uriah Butler Highway which left two women dead and scores injured, so traumatised firemen who responded to the tragedy that they are now receiving counselling as part of being debriefed by the Fire Service Chaplaincy.
In all, 38 fire officers were being debriefed by a team on Wednesday night. Speaking with Newsday yesterday, Chief Fire Officer Roosevelt Bruce said while the officers were trained to deal with different types of situations they did not have the experience.
“It was the first time the fire officers were exposed to Tuesday’s situation. We are going to put things in place for officers to have a proper debriefing.
“What happened in the past, there was only one chaplaincy team for the whole of TT Fire Service. We have now established a team where there is an assistance chaplaincy team in each division. The officers who worked on the scene on Tuesday will have a debriefing session at the Chaguanas Division tonight.”
He said an employee assistance programme (EPA) provider would also be called in to have some follow-up sessions with the officers.
Bruce said while he could not say if all the affected officers would turn out for the debriefing, he said there had been no adverse reports.
“Of course it will play on the officer’s mind seeing that level of mutilation. The officers are prepared to deal with these types of carnage because they have been trained for the situation. But it is like if a war broke out, will you ask the army if they are prepared?
“Yes, they are trained but not the experience because as far as I know…I have been in the service for the past 40 years and this is the first time I have seen a motor vehicle accident with that many casualties.”
Bruce called on all drivers to take the necessary precautions and check their vehicles more seriously before leaving home.
“We are asking people, you may not observe it in passing whether you have smooth tyres, whether the brakes in their car is working properly, so it makes sense to make regular checks on your vehicle. When you are driving, drive for the other driver as well and look out for the unexpected on the roadways.”
On Tuesday, after an accident in Chaguanas involving a Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) deluxe coach bus, a garbage truck and a Blue Waters delivery truck two women died while 16 other passengers were listed in serious conditions at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mount Hope.
According to police the accident occurred on the Uriah Butler Highway near Charlieville in Chaguanas at around 10 am.
In a statement, TT Public Service Corporation (PTSC) general manager Bashir Mohammed said investigations would be launched by various agencies, to ascertain the contributing factors of the accident, and it was hoped possible actions to avert recurrence would be established as PTSC continued to endorse road safety.
Mohammed said the travelling public was reassured that PTSC’s robust strides to maintain the provision of a safe and reliable transportation service, across the country remained of paramount importance.
He said the board, management and staff of PTSC expressed its deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of the deceased commuters.
"As a result of this tragic accident, our thoughts and prayers are also with those persons injured. PTSC shall also offer assistance to employees, who would have been affected by deep trauma."
Speaking on I95.5 radio staion president of road safety NGO Arrive Alive, Sharon Inglefield questioned what it would take for barrierrs to be placed on highways and roadways.
Inglefield said there was a need to either reduce the speed or place the barriers on the roadways and highways.
"We cannot have dangerous highways at 100 kilometres per hour with no protection to avoid those crossover collisions. The only other alternative is to reduce the speed to 50 kilometers and right back to the 80 kilometres that existed on some of the roadways. Our call is nothing new.
"The road upgrades in this country along with safe driving practices could change the outcome of accidents. When we had discussion about raising the speed limit within the ministry, one of the conditions that arrive alive said we would support them with is that the road network, the road furniture would be upgraded to include the barriers, the markings, the pavement of the road, the lightings, some of the T&TEC poles are much too close to the traffic and, therefore, lives are being lost when collisions occur and vehicles hit the concrete barriers. The poles should not be installed close to traffic.”