Compassion in face of trauma

A Seaton man first on the scene to a horrific late-night accident has been lauded by Latrobe Valley police for his compassion and conduct under extreme pressure.

Clifford Brooker was driving to work in the Latrobe Valley in March this year when he was flagged down by a man who had just survived a multiple fatality accident.

“I didn’t even know it was an accident at the time, but it was clear there was something wrong. It was an automatic reaction from there; I turned the car around to see what was wrong,” Mr Brooker recalled.

Confronted by a traumatic crash scene, Mr Brooker quickly called authorities, and assisted with the surviving victims until the arrival of police and paramedics.

In handing over the Certificate of Appreciation from Eastern Region Division Five at Morwell Police headquarters on Friday, Inspector Mick West said Mr Brooker was faced with a gory and traumatic scene.

“I visited the scene the next day, and even in the cold hard light of day it was a traumatic place to be – I would hate to think about what they were confronted with by torch light that night,” Inspector West said.

Humbled by the award, Mr Brooker said the confronting experience was a turning point in his life.

“You learn a lot about yourself from these situations, and about what you can do under pressure,” he said.

“The cops and ambulance did a fantastic job – for me it was pretty difficult the one time, for them, they have to go and do it everyday.

“I hope someone else could stop and do something (in similar circumstances) – don’t be frightened to stop – it’s human nature to help, so just listen to that urge and don’t turn your back.”

Mr Brooker’s wife and daughter, Debbie and Ellie, said they were extremely proud of him for his actions.

“He’s really good in a crisis, but we are still proud as punch,” Ms Brooker said.

Traralgon Sergeant Paul Stowe, who attended the accident scene on the night, applauded Mr Brooker’s quick thinking amid a hysterical situation.

“There are two types of people; the ones who react and assist, or those who don’t assist. Mr Brooker is an astounding example of the first,” he said.