Tuesday, February 7, 2023
HomeNewsHillcrest jumping castle tragedy: 12 First responders still off work

Hillcrest jumping castle tragedy: 12 First responders still off work

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Approximately a dozen first responders remain on mental health leave almost a year on from a jumping castle tragedy in the Tasmanian city of Devonport.

The trauma experienced by first responders at Hillcrest Primary School on December 16, 2021 – and the ongoing efforts to support them – were highlighted today, near on a year after the tragedy.

Tasmania prepares to mark the anniversary on Friday of the tragedy – in which six children were killed in a freak jumping castle accident at their school.

Director of wellbeing support for Ambulance Tasmania and the Department of Police, Fire and Emergency Management Matthew Richman said 174 members of emergency services had been receiving ongoing care.

“When Hillcrest occurred, we activated our critical incident stress management team and also our broader wellbeing support team, and we had people on the ground very quickly to provide support on scene,” he said.

“That support really increased over the first couple of weeks, and we are extending that support out for a two-year period.”

“It’s well known the earlier the intervention can occur, the better the outcome will be over time.”

“We are actually tracing people over time. The two years of wellbeing checks is not something we have done before.”

Mr Richman said the Department was working closely with the approximately 12 emergency services workers still on leave to support their return to work.

“It varies on an individual basis. Obviously, it was a very impressive, inspirational event, we are quite successful at returning a number of people to work after significant incidents,” he said.

“I think it’s fair to say that Hillcrest, as we saw the flowers that were left at the scene, that it was a really impressive, inspirational event for the entire community. “All the emergency responders are part of that community, and it was felt very strongly.”

Mr Richman encouraged the broader Tasmanian community to keep emergency services workers in their thoughts.

“If we look at the role of all emergency service responders, it is important from time to time for the public to put themselves in the shoes of the responders, actually understand the complexity and the magnitude of what is being dealt with, and perhaps have a moment of quiet reflection to be appreciative of the services that are provided,” he said.

On December 16, 2021, the small port city of 26,000 was rocked by tragedy when a jumping castle was blown into the air by strong winds, killing six local children celebrating their last days of school before the holidays.

The lives of Zane Mellor, 12, Peter Dodt, 12, Addison Stewart, 11, Jye Sheehan, 12, Jalailah Jayne-Maree Jones, 12, and Chace Harrison, 11, were cut tragically short.

A joint public inquest is expected to be held in the first half of 2023.

The community will be able to place flowers and messages of support for the victims and their grieving families at a memorial on Thursday evening.

The ceremony will occur at Devonport’s Market Square at 5.30pm on December 15.

With The Mercury

Story Credit: news.com.au

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