Experts in trauma and recovery support made their way to Williams last week to offer advice to those struggling with the impact serious crashes can have on mental health. Experienced emergency responders and members of the public gathered at Williams Sports Pavilion for a Road Trauma Support WA presentation on dealing with traumatic road events and loss. The event was organised by Williams emergency services in the midst of one of the deadliest years on the roads in the Great Southern Police District in recent memory. The trauma support session included advice from experts in the field and gave people the chance to speak up about their concerns and ask questions about situations they had faced. The presentation was confronting at times, with Injury Matters recovery support manager Christine Smith speaking about what people could expect after a serious crash. She identified financial expenses, media intrusion and social changes as factors that could affect mental wellbeing. Ms Smith told the audience nearly 70 per cent of road deaths were caused by human error. Psychologist Melissa Nicholls spoke of the body’s response to a stressor and how it was normal to have a physical and mental reaction after an incident involving loss or trauma. “While experiencing these kind of reactions is normal after a crash, sometimes we can get stuck in this fight or flight place,” she said. “Problems arise when you get stuck in that place, because your entire life is being impacted by the event.” Ms Nicholls said if people were still experiencing emotions such as guilt or fear four to six weeks after an incident, they should seek external guidance. She also touched on grief and how it was essential for those who had experienced loss to realise grief was a normal human reaction to change. “It’s important for us to acknowledge grief doesn’t just impact our emotions, it impacts our whole way of being,” she said. Becoming aware of what activities helped “replenish” you was a way to support yourself through trauma, she said. Williams Police Sen. Const. Darren Redhead also addressed the crowd, pointing out first responders usually had support services to help them deal with traumatic events, while that was not the case for members of the public who were often first on the scene. “One minute they (members of the public) are driving along thinking about what they are going to do that night... then you come around the corner and it’s chaos and carnage,” he said. Sen. Const. Redhead said he was pleased by the public response to the trauma support session. “This is just the starting point for us,” he said.