Almost 500 people rescued from crashed vehicles so far this year

Firefighters during a training exercise to release crash victims from their vehicles
Firefighters during a training exercise to release crash victims from their vehicles

Firefighters have rescued almost 500 people from crashed vehicles in Northern Ireland so far this year.

Many of those successfully extracted, often with the use of heavy cutting equipment, sustained life-changing injuries, fire chiefs warned.

The injury toll is in addition to the 63 people killed on the Province’s roads between January and mid-November.

The stark figures were outlined at the launch of Road Safety Week.

Alan Walmsley, assistant chief fire officer with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, said firefighters had attended more than 620 crashes over the last 11 months.

“Tragically there are far too many people whom we cannot rescue and the impact of their loss is felt every day by the families left behind,” he said.

“We all need to think road safety every time we get behind the wheel, not just during Road Safety Week but every single day.”

The initiative was launched by Environment Minister Mark H Durkan at RADAR – the Risk Avoidance and Danger Awareness Resource education centre in Belfast.

Workshops for young drivers and a demonstration of what happens when the emergency services attend the scene of crash were staged at the event.

Mr Durkan said: “This week is Road Safety Week – but every week should be road safety week – for all of us.

“Road safety is an all year round challenge for every single road user. It is a continuous challenge and road deaths do not discriminate. All road users are vulnerable during every journey. We must also remember that the majority of deaths are due to something that we as individuals all have the power to control by eliminating high risk behaviours.”

The Fire Service, Department of the Environment, PSNI and Ambulance Service will use the week to raise awareness of road safety issues.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said, “One death on the roads is one too many. When you consider that many, if not the majority of deaths and serious injuries caused by collisions could have been avoided, it’s an appalling waste of life.”