Monday, August 08, 2011
It is 05:00 am and we are driving back from hospital when we come across a traffic accident. A taxi has failed to negotiate a gentle curve in the road and has struck a power pole. There are no other emergency services on scene and we have not heard any ambulance vehicles being sent to this crash. I get on the radio as we do a U-turn and ask the dispatcher to create a "field event" for us. This can be loosely explained that if we don't have enough work given to us over the radio, we can simply drive around and find our own. Seriously though, any time we get waved down by someone on the side of the road or nanna drops a can of Chunky Beef soup on her foot at the shops while we are trying to buy lunch, we make a field created event that then runs like a normal job.
For a suburban street this is a reasonably big hit. The taxi is twisted out of shape and the power pole has clearly made it nearly all the way through the engine bay to the firewall.
When we look in the vehicle, it's a mess. There is no obvious blood and nobody in the front or back seats. I always check the floor too, as people can end up in all sort of odd place in a crash. All the normal taxi stuff that has been carefully stuffed down between the seats, in the glove box, tucked up in the visor or stacked in the console has gone flying and there are bits of debris and food and paper and CDs and beads everywhere. The mandatory dashboard statue is nowhere to be seen but a resilient blob of Blu-tac shows where it once stood. The airbags have gone off and there is a fair bit of intrusion into the footwell on the passenger side. More telling for me was the evidence outside the car. No skidmarks on the road and major damage to the wooden power pole at about head height. This car was airborne after hitting the concrete curb.
A female taxi driver was sitting on a low brick fence talking on a mobile phone and I went over. After a quick assessment, she's alert, apparently uninjured and doesn't want my help thanks very much (not what she actually said). The driver claimed to be at the end of her shift and said she had "lost concentration". I wasn't overly happy with this. In this area women generally don't work the nightshift on taxis. Especially not youngish, 60kg ones. Yeah yeah before you start, I know there are exceptions to everything. Her taxi company shirt uniform was too big for her and neatly pressed. It just didn't have that I've been driving around for 10 hours, soaking in my own sweat and KFC grease look about it. She just didn't look to me like she had just worked a long shift dealing with customers, fallen asleep, got a yellow taxi 5 feet off the ground and been woken after meeting a solid object at high speed. The police arrived and the first thing she said to them was "I was driving the taxi". Allowing she was the only one on this windy, cold, roadside wearing a taxi uniform the police officer gave her a look that said it all.
I have seen many accidents where the car is wrecked and the people inside are fine, but I've also seen the opposite, where the car looks fine and the person is critically injured, so there is no sense in trying to predict patient outcomes on how interested Neville the claims assessor from the insurance company is going to be. After persisting, I persuaded the driver to go to hospital for a check-up, but despite careful looking, I found not a scratch on her. No seat belt stripe (the tell-tale diagonal red bruising), no back or neck pain, no glass shards in her hair, no cuts on the hands or pain in the chest. Vital signs all within normal limits. The hospital checked her over, and then did it again after looking at the photos my partner took of the crash and found nothing wrong either. She was collected by a relative from hospital before I had even finished my paperwork.