Crash scene angels

2015-12-24 09:28
The Cowley family go out to major accident scenes to help paramedics and calm traumatised victims. (From left) Jessica Hollier, Keegan Cowley, Carol Cowley and Kearna Cowley, were all at the Ohrtmann Road accident last weekend that claimed the lives

The Cowley family go out to major accident scenes to help paramedics and calm traumatised victims. (From left) Jessica Hollier, Keegan Cowley, Carol Cowley and Kearna Cowley, were all at the Ohrtmann Road accident last weekend that claimed the lives (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - A Pietermaritzburg policeman’s family have a unique way of spending more time with their father and husband: helping out at accident scenes to calm trauma victims.

Carol Cowley, the wife of Pietermaritzburg Search and Rescue Unit Warrant Officer Ian Cowley, said she first started helping out at major accident scenes over a decade ago.

She said assisting at accident scenes presented the opportunity for her and her three children to give back to the community as well as bond and spend some more time with her husband.

She said the initiative started 13 years ago when, while travelling through the Eastern Cape, she and her husband stopped at the site of a particularly nasty bus accident.

“There was only one policeman on scene when we arrived and I was thrown completely into the deep end,” she said.

“The bus had crashed down into a ravine and many people died. It was the first time I had been introduced to my husband’s line of work and I remember climbing into the bus, trying to help those who had survived the crash.”

It all spiralled from there, and for the last 13 years Carol has been at accident scenes, with surgical gloves, helping to set up drips, calm traumatised victims and fetching equipment for paramedics.

When her eldest daughter, Kerry-Lee, who is now a paramedic for ER24, turned 15, she started going on trips with the rescue team for work experience. Carol said her two other children, Keegan (18) and Kearna (17), both decided they wanted to help when they were old enough too.

“Policemen do not have much of a family life, so by going out we are able to see him and help others.

“We do have to try and stomach the things we see.

“We won’t ever get used to what we see, but if we can help then we will.”

Carol said that “unfortunately, these things are part of life”, but as long as she and her children could be of some assistance, then she would continue going out to accident scenes.

Last weekend, after a major car accident on the N3 near Ohrtmann Road claimed the lives of three people, Carol and her children were on hand to help look after and calm down a child who had been seriously injured in the horror crash. Carol commended all policemen’s wives for their patience and nerves of steel as they waited for their husbands to return home from work each night.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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