It’s an ordinary day, just like any other. Maybe you snoozed the alarm, but eventually you pull yourself out of bed and get ready for your day.
You arrive at work a few minutes early, with time enough to settle in and prepare for an unpredictable day ahead.
That call comes through – the one telling you about your first job of the day. Off you head, to the other side of town.
The traffic seems to part for you. The din of the sirens grows and you near your destination – it’s deafening.
Along your drive, you begin to brace yourself. You’re about to have a big role in the worst day in someone’s life.
This is, unfortunately, part of a typical work day for a police officer in the Forensic Crash Unit (FCU).
The FCU is a specialist unit within the Queensland Police Service (QPS), and their officers are called out to the worst crash scenes, tasked with the job of uncovering the cause of the incident.
By the time FCU officers arrive at the scene, general duties police and other emergency services are already in attendance, assisting the injured and redirecting traffic.
There are police officers in attendance gathering statements from witnesses, cordoning off roads and examining the scene. Two of them are from the FCU.
Among the worst scenes they face are those where family members arrive to find their loved one seriously injured or killed in the crash.
Today, the family are present and officers are able to allow them some time to sit with their loved one to say goodbye, even amidst the chaos.
Blue and red lights are flashing and broken pieces of vehicle lie across the road.
Cars stuck in the traffic behind the scene occasionally honk with frustration, unaware of what happened on the road ahead.
Witnesses who never met the drivers and passengers are visibly upset as they recount their take on the events leading up to this moment, relaying the chronology of events to officers who take notes in a black book.
Time has stopped for this family; they are immersed in this moment as their lives are changing, yet the traffic continues to build up behind the crash, and FCU officers are marking, photographing and analysing the scene.
A drone flies overhead to film and photograph the scene as it lies, recording tyre marks, scrape marks, and smashed vehicle parts, pieces of a puzzle which will determine how this happened.
For the officers who attend these scenes day in day out, this is a normal day at work.
In the hours and days that follow, they will pore over the photos, videos and maps to determine the cause of the crash. But that won’t bring back someone who has been lost or undo the serious injuries incurred.
By the time FCU wrap up this scene, other emergency services have left, the vehicles are cleared away and the roads are reopened.
Everything seems to be back to normal for everyone except for the members of this family, who have had the worst day in their lives, and for our FCU officers, who had yet another busy day at work dealing with a preventable crash.
Your actions on the road have direct consequences on your life, and the ones you love.
Our FCU officers don’t want to be busy.
Officer in Charge of the Brisbane Forensic Crash Unit, Senior Sergeant Nicole Fox, says her team is only necessary for as long as there are traffic crashes.
“We all hope for the phone not to ring,” she said.
“If there were no serious crashes, there would be no need for the Forensic Crash Unit.”
Every decision you make on the road, counts. Road safety is everyone’s responsibility, but that starts with you.