27 February 2024

Help for witnesses following traumatic incidents

The road safety team at Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service have overseen a project that provides information and help for people who witness, but are not directly involved in, an incident.

The support concept was proposed by a firefighter based at Tisbury.

DW Fire and Rescue say, “Experiencing something as unexpected as a fire, a collision, or any other form of rescue can be difficult, particularly in instances where suffering or loss of life have been witnessed”.

The Fire and Rescue Service’s own firefighters experience this difficulty on a daily basis and appreciate the impact the trauma an incident can have on wellbeing.

Firefighter Matt Mullins from Tisbury Fire Station proposed the concept after pointing out that looking after the community post incident is just as important as the Service’s Prevention, Protection and Response duties.

He said, “As firefighters, we take such pride in engaging with our communities and naturally place a huge emphasis on rescue. I feel it’s just as important to ensure that we extend that protection further than education through our prevention work and response to incidents.

“Emergency situations affect everyone differently and in cases where witnesses are present, we want to be able to help them as much as we can by showing them where they can find support.”

After several months of partnership meetings, researching content and finding a sponsor, the scheme is about to launch, with a supply of cards which can be issued to witnesses following incidents across Dorset and Wiltshire. The cards have a URL link and QR code, leading to a website page with signposting to partners offering support, advice and guidance.

Both Dorset and Wiltshire Police are supporting the scheme as being a Police incident ground, only they may distribute the cards at road traffic collisions. However, all emergency service staff can identify community members who may benefit from further support to Police personnel and provide cards to them if they are not carrying them.

Road Safety Manager Christine Sharma added, “I’d like to offer my sincerest thanks on behalf of the Service to Matthew Boatwright of Boatwrights Estate Agents for their kind sponsorship of the scheme.

“Their assistance has meant we now have 10,000 cards available to distribute amongst our emergency service partners across Dorset and Wiltshire.”

More information about where to find support or guidance at https://www.dwfire.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/help-following-an-incident/

Written by
David Harber
View all articles
Written by David Harber