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Sobering warning from emergency services

21 Dec 2015 16:31 PM

Road safety [View Full Size]

Laygate Street in South Shields was made to look like a scene of devastation today after firefighters from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service battled to rescue live casualties from a re-constructed road traffic accident caused by drink driving.

Firefighters from a number of stations across Tyne and Wear were called into action during the exercise to highlight the unnecessary horror drink driving can cause.

This practical demonstration focused on the devastating consequences of car crashes including the guilt and blame a driver faces if they kill or injure passengers.

The exercise was arranged with the involvement of Northumbria Police, North East Ambulance Service and South Tyneside Council with vehicles donated by Jarrow Coachworks.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Chris Lowther, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said: "Deaths and injuries caused by drink driving devastate families and communities.

"People who drive under the influence of drink or drugs may easily kill or injure not only themselves, but other road users and pedestrians, ruining the lives of many.

"I hope this re-construction has demonstrated the need to keep our roads safer and reduce the number of drink driving incidents emergency services have to deal with in the future."

Chairman of Tyne and Wear Fire Authority, Councillor Tom Wright said: "I would like to take this opportunity to thank all partners involved in this exercise, particularly South Tyneside Council for assisting with the road closure and Jarrow Coachworks for donating the cars used in the demonstration.  This exercise has been a valuable training opportunity for crews and an excellent way to promote the devastating consequences of drink driving."

Northumbria Police Chief inspector John Heckels, head of the force’s Operation Dragoon road safety initiative, said: "We will not tolerate any form of drink or drug driving on the region’s roads.

"So far this month we have already arrested 81 people for drink or drug driving offences and we will continue to test anyone involved in a collision or anyone who has been driving suspiciously.

"Driving while under the influence of either drink or drugs could lead to an innocent person being killed on our roads and it is shocking that people continue to take that risk.

"We are committed to doing all we can to make sure the roads are safe for everyone this Christmas and we are better equipped than ever before to take offenders off the roads.

"To help make our campaign work we still need the public's help and we need people to tell us who the drink and drug drivers are so we can take action.

"Reporting these people could help to save lives and make a real difference out on the roads."

Paul Liversidge, Chief Operating Officer, at North East Ambulance Service, said: "Frontline staff at North East Ambulance Service can attend hundreds of road traffic collisions in their career, including those caused by drink driving.

"Many of these collisions can be serious traumatic and life changing events for both the patients and their loved ones, as well as our crews who come to their aid every day.

"This initiative builds on the work of Operation Dragoon and the festive drink and drug campaign. By supporting such campaigns, we hope to help drivers consider the wider impact of such an incident before they get behind the wheel."

Councillor Tracey Dixon, Chairman of the South Tyneside Community Safety Partnership and Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety at South Tyneside Council, added: "We fully support this initiative. It’s important to raise awareness of the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, particularly around this time of year when people are enjoying themselves over the festive period.

"Getting behind the wheel under the influence is totally unacceptable. It not only puts the driver and their passengers at risk, it compromises the safety of the local community and the effects can be devastating.

"We hope that this hard hitting demonstration helps to encourage people to act responsibility and prevent lives being ruined as a result of drink driving, not just over the festive period but all year round."