Car Boot Sale Carnage

This morning the wife and I were at the Blacktown Drive-In car boot sale markets. We were two stalls away when a car suddenly accelerated from where it was parked, tore across the crowd milling around the stall and drove through the stall and into a parked van. At first we thought there was a woman trapped underneath but fortunately it was only a shoe from the items on sale, spread on the ground in front of the van.

The driver was in shock and so too the man he had hit and the little boy, bleeding from a cut to his temple. It was a close run thing that could have ended in a tragic fatality or two. I administered first aid to the boy, sitting in his father’s arms and determined he was not concussed or otherwise seriously injured. I was more concerned for his father who kept saying how it happened so fast and he was only able to pull one of his two boys to safety. He was distraught that he couldn’t stop the car from hitting his other son. I empathised with him completely, I have five children and would have been in a worse situation. He didn’t have time to decide which lad to save, it was all instinctive reaction, yet no doubt he will suffer over this incident and feel he failed his son and his family in some way.

With all the casualties being monitored by someone and the young stall holder doing an admirable job in keeping the roadway clear I moved off to a where I was able to direct the first police officers arriving on foot to the scene, then the first ambulance. Both arrived within five to ten minutes which is pretty good considering we were at the farthest boundary of the drive-in. I could hear sirens from other emergency vehicles and moved up to the exit gate where I was able to intercept the fire rescue truck and send them straight down the exit road to the scene, saving them having to wend their way through the crowded car park from the entry gate.

By now there were several police units, four ambulances and three fire rescue teams on the scene and as I didn’t actually witness the crash, I had just heard it and the screams of those who did witness the accident, I felt there was nothing to gain by adding to the crowd and we left. In hindsight I could perhaps have taken a more active role, marshalling the crowd, organising a triage for the injured and segregating witnesses and those involved from the rubber neckers… but I didn’t. I chose not to ‘take control’ of the scene for several reasons, one of which is that I wanted to observe what happened next rather than make it happen.

I didn’t think anyone was in immediate peril or had sufficient life threatening injuries that weren’t being given appropriate immediate assistance. The writer in me took over and I wanted to document the event in my head, yet when I saw the 8 year old boy bleeding and cradled in his father’s arms with his family crowding around and nobody seeming to know what to do next I just instinctively stepped in to help and away it went from there. The old Military Police training kicked in and I couldn’t help myself.

Should I have done more from the beginning? What duty do we have to involve ourselves in such incidents? Is it right to think well there are plenty of other people around and as I was not directly involved, why me? It wasn’t my car, my stall, my family or anyone I knew from a bar of soap. But what if it had been my family? Different story then. Very different story. I am only glad my kids were safe at home and my wife was beside me at the time.

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