‘Any available traffic unit for a likely to prove RTC?’ came the message over the radio.
Likely to prove means someone is seriously hurt, and could lose their life in a road traffic collision (RTC).
I activate my blue lights and sirens and make my way to the scene which could be anywhere in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, or Hertfordshire.
What is involved? Who is hurt? Is it just one injury or are there more? What other units are available to support? Just a few of the many things that flash through my mind.
Having fought my way through the traffic I arrive at scene and realise I am first here.
People are calling for my help, however my first priority must be to make a safe environment, after all, if I get wiped out by a car, I’m no help to anyone.
I close the road and approach the crashed vehicles. I do a quick recce on the casualties.
If they are screaming and crying out, at least I know they are alive, so I prioritise the silent patients.
Looking into the crushed, almost destroyed vehicle, I see blood everywhere.
The injuries to the driver are horrific. They are visibly dead, so I move on to the next person – a passenger who isn’t breathing.
I pull him from the car, as it’s filling with smoke, and start mouth to mouth and chest compressions.
The ambulance service arrives and takes over the care of the casualties.
My responsibility now changes. I need to investigate how this collision occurred and the impact this will have not only on the people in the vehicles but their nearest and dearest.
I need to deploy a family liaison officer, I need to secure and preserve evidence (calling out the collision investigation unit to help facilitate this), establish witnesses, set up full road closures and diversions, as well as thinking about vehicle examinations to identify any mechanical defects.
I also need to look at seizing items such things as mobile phones to establish if they were a contributory factor.
A particularly difficult job I dealt with was on a motorway.
My crewmate and I were sent to an RTC where a number of vehicles were involved. We were first on scene and on our arrival one of the vehicles was on fire. The flames were 40-50 foot high on our arrival.
There were two people in the first vehicle. They were dead.
The next vehicle in the line was very badly damaged with the driver seriously injured.
A lorry had jack-knifed and the driver was unconscious on the carriageway. He had been thrown through the windscreen in the impact.
The last driver was fortunately only suffering minor injuries.
What do you do first?
On average five people are killed on the road each and every day in the UK.
So drive to arrive, leave your phone alone, watch your speed and never ever drink or use drugs and drive.
I don’t want to have to pull you from the wreckage of your vehicle.
I don’t want to have to give you mouth to mouth at the side of the road.
I don’t want to have to tell your loved ones that you’re not coming home.
That’s why we give this advice, and that’s why we try to catch those people who put their own and other people’s lives in danger on the road.
Sergeant Chris Smith has been a police officer for more than 26 years and has spent most of his time working in roads policing. He thinks his job is the best in the force, and is also part of the roads policing motorcycle team.
He is passionate about enforcing road traffic law in an attempt to reduce the number of accidents and improve safety.