Trying to save lives at an accident scene has nearly cost South Coast paramedic Glenn Congram his own life countless times.
So Mr Congram, NSW assistant secretary for the Australian Paramedics Association, has welcomed new road rules which require motorists to slow down to 40km/h when passing emergency workers on the roadside.
The new rule will begin as a 12-month trial from September 1, and will apply to motorists on all roads where an emergency vehicle has stopped and has its red and blue lights flashing.
“We’re very pleased to see the NSW government bring this out and take the initiative, like Victoria,” Mr Congram said.
“Our members’ safety around motor vehicle accidents is paramount – it would be one of the most dangerous situations we face on a daily basis.
“If you can imagine working on the side of the road and having vehicles and semi trailers going past at 60km/h to 100km/h.
“We’re often working on blind corners, and are often first on scene or before warning signs have been put in place, and are trying to help not only those involved in the accident but bystanders.
“So we support this 100 per cent – whether it be a trial or fully implemented.”
In announcing the trial on Sunday, Minister for Police and Emergency Services Troy Grant said it would provide extra protection for emergency workers.
“Our police, firefighters, ambulance officers, State Emergency Service and rescue volunteers do difficult and dangerous work with little or no fanfare,” he said.
“These new measures will help ensure the safety of our dedicated emergency services personnel.”
The move comes after an incident in Sydney's southwest in February, where two police officers were injured while setting up a random breath testing checkpoint.
Senior Constable Jonathan Wright had to have his foot and part of his leg amputated and Senior Constable Matthew Foley broke his leg after a car ploughed into them.
Mr Congram said incidents such as this were devastating and said he, and his colleagues, could recount many “near misses”.
“In my 27 years as a paramedic the amount of times I’ve almost been side-swiped is incredible,” he said.
“The problem is with car accidents everybody driving past is not looking at the road, they’re looking at the accident.
“That’s going to continue to happen but while being hit at 40km/h is still going to hurt, it’s far better than being hit at 100km/h.”
The state government will monitor the safety and traffic impacts of the new road rule over the 12-month period in consultation with police and other emergency services.