Medico was also a victim
EMERGENCY Department medico Dr Kristen Hoy says she usually sees road accident victims after they have been ‘nicely packaged up’ by ambulance paramedics.
But on November 13 last year, she was not only the first medical person on the scene of a three-car collision on the Pacific Highway south of Urunga, she was driving one of the cars damaged in the collision and was injured herself.
After 10 years working as a doctor in many hospitals, many of those jobs involving long hours on the road, it has given her a new perspective on the Coffs Coast’s deadly section of the Pacific Highway.
Dr Hoy is the newest member of Doctors for a Safe Pacific Highway, the medical lobby group formed by Coffs Coast doctors and medical professionals to push for rapid completion of the Pacific Highway upgrade.
Looking down on part of the upgraded Bonville section of the highway, Dr Hoy contrasts it with the narrow two-lane section south of Urunga where the November accident occurred.
She said when she saw a car heading towards her, she tried to move as far off the road as possible but a steep drop-off-limited her options.
Although her move meant her car was hit on the side, not head-on, it lost a wheel and spun out of control across the highway and into the path of a large truck.
She said her survival was thanks to a good truck driver, who managed to pull his rig to a halt just metres from the wreckage of her car.
“He was driving defensively and he managed to stop in time, and all the vehicles behind him had to stop, which made it a much safer accident scene” she said.
Bruised and battered herself, she went to the aid of seriously injured Sandy Beach man Wayne Evans and his wife, Pamela, in the second car and later accompanied them in the ambulance to the hospital.
She said the accident involved enormous resources – four ambulances, a control car, the fire brigade and the SES.
Although she does not believe the accident was caused by the highway, she does believe the injuries and damage would have been reduced by centre barriers and a better constructed road.
She is still nursing a sore back and has changed her attitude to driving.
“I stay overnight a lot more – the less time you spend on it the less chance you have of being in an accident.”