World Day of Remembrance: acknowledging the crucial work of the emergency services

News, Post-Crash Response

This World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, which was held on Sunday 15th November, we took the time to acknowledge the crucial work of the emergency services.

This year especially, the work of our emergency services has without question been heroic. In Tajikistan for example, we have seen fire appliances donated by EASST and FIRE AID in 2018 being used to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The pandemic has made many people more aware of the importance of robust and resilient health care systems. Better health care systems mean improved capacity for post-crash response and trauma care. If put into place effectively, this could in itself reduce the number of road fatalities by up to 50% – which is why for this World Day of Remembrance, as we remembered the 1.35 million people who have lost their lives on the roads in the last year, and the 50 million who have been injured, we also called on governments to commit to act, to recognise the value of emergency personnel and to support them to save lives.

On Friday 13th November, we arranged for Steve Jordan, Station Manager at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, and FIRE AID colleague, to speak on behalf of all first responders at the UN Road Safety Collaboration’s Global Commemoration event. Steve highlighted the vital role of firefighters in post-crash response, despite the fact that many of his colleagues around the world face constant challenges. In many places, for example, despite highly motivated and capable crews, post-crash care is generally poorly resourced – resulting in old equipment being used that is not fit for purpose, among many other challenges.

The event, which also featured personal testimony from Viviam Perrone, Founder of Asociación Madres del Dolor, Argentina and Writu Bhatta Rai, Executive Secretary of Swatantrata Abhiyan, Nepal was extremely moving. Statements also came from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization; Andrew Holness, Prime Minister, Jamaica; Jean Todt, United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety; Michael Bloomberg, WHO Global Ambassador for NCDs and Injuries; and Zoleka Mandela, Global Ambassador, Child Health Initiative. The whole event can be watched again here.

In addition to Steve’s testimony, we called on our colleagues from FIRE AID to share their stories and experiences as first responders. All show just how important the emergency services are, and why more support is needed.