Disclaimer: This article covers emergency road trauma information, and may be distressing for some.
The Teenagers Road Accident Group, or ‘TRAG’, has been providing road trauma presentations to secondary schools in the South East of Victoria for 20 years now; and following sessions in July, the program will have reached over 3,500 people in 2019 alone.
Since 1999, the TRAG program has spoken to more than 100,000 young people from secondary schools across the Mornington Peninsula and South-East Melbourne.
The presenters are a combination of emergency services, including CFA, Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, Victorian State Emergency Service (VICSES) – as well as a variety of victims and family members who have been affected by road trauma. All presenters give their first-hand experiences of road trauma, in the hope of reducing the number of young people adding to the road toll.
“This program is really about making good decisions and spreading the word. The next one could be you – or someone you know,” Mick Romeril, TRAG Representative and Sergeant of Police in charge of Dromana Police Station, said. “One in four people in our community will be affected by road trauma – either directly, or indirectly this year. We hope everyone can come away with the knowledge that could save your life.”
The program was initiated by CFA Dromana Fire Brigade’s Captain in 1999, Craig Solly, who witnessed a speech from Ruth Moloney who lost her brother in a motor vehicle accident. Ruth spoke about the effects on her and her family following her brother’s death, and Captain Solly then decided to conduct a Forum on how to reduce the road toll in relation to young adult drivers.
Other emergency services, community groups and victims or those affected by young adult road toll growth joined the program: and TRAG was born.
Georgina (Georgie) McDonald is 3rd Lieutenant (Training and Development) at Dromana Fire Brigade. Georgie spoke to over 200 students on 22 July at Peninsula Community Theatre in Mornington, presenting on both her experience attending road crashes and her personal connection to these horrific incidences.
“I try not to think about the scenes I attend too often, but often I’ll drive past and I’m reminded,” Georgie said. “Timothy Hocking: 17 years old from Rosebud Secondary College. He was my cousin, and he was number 92 of the road toll this year. If you feel like you’re in danger, do whatever it takes to get out of that car. Don’t become a statistic.”
“Young people are dying at an alarming rate on our roads, your decisions have consequences,” Ambulance Victoria paramedic Naomi McAlister said. “The most horrific crash I attended was five young men in Crib Point, we received a call for advanced life support and air support. A silver station wagon was wrapped around a power pole, with a body hanging through the front window. It took 2.5 hours to cut them out, 3 helicopters. Two dead, three survived but will never be the same again.”
Simon, a 17-year-old student from Western Port Secondary, attended the TRAG session on 22 July. “It’s shocking to realise how often it happens around me. This really got the message across – you don’t really hear of the horrors,” Simon said. “They were in the same situation we are in – you don’t think about how close it is to happening to you.”