Interviews with Fire Rescue Victoria

Leading Firefighter Dale Waterson – Thomastown Fire Station

1. How long have you been presenting Fit to Drive programs?

Since June 2014.

2. What is your motivation for being involved in road safety education for young people?

There are three main factors that motivate me to continue facilitating Fit to Drive sessions. No matter how many sessions I do, I am always reminded of these factors at some point during the program:

  • When I went through high school in rural NSW I was never exposed to a program such as this. I never really even thought about the consequences associated with unsafe driver or passenger behaviour. As such, when I got my license and when I travelled with friends in cars, I believe I was an unsafe person to be around. If I am able to at least educate young people about what could happen, hopefully they will be more aware than I ever was.
  • As a Heavy Rescue operator within FRV, I am exposed to the often fatal consequences of road crashes. There is no better motivator than the horrific aftermath of a road crash to encourage me to get out and educate as many students as possible.
  • As well as a Firefighter, I am also a father. With 4 girls at home, I would hope that there are people willing to get out and spend the time educating them about road safety and safe decision making. Each student I stand in front of reminds me of my daughters and how they will have to make difficult decisions while out with their friends about how to stay safe and make it home alive.

 3. What’s one thing you hope young people take away from your presentations for Fit to Drive programs? 

I would hope the students really appreciate the passion I have for the program and how genuinely I care about their future. They have their whole lives in front of them to learn, love and have adventures; I would hate to see one bad decision change that. I would hope that they leave the Fit to Drive sessions with the bravery and the knowledge to say the right thing when and if the time comes.

4. What advice would you give an education provider or community organisation who is interested in hosting a Fit to Drive program?

I would encourage anyone interested in hosting a Fit to Drive program to go ahead and do it. Think about all the people that are affected by a single road crash: the people in the crash, the families, the friends, the school teachers and principals, the firefighters, police officers, paramedics, doctors, nurses, bystanders… and the list goes on. Each and every one of these people have to live their lives with the memories from a road crash and this then in turn can affect their families and loved ones. If by running a Fit to Drive program we can prevent just one road crash, I would consider it a success.

Acting Station Officer Mark Crowe – Richmond Fire Station

1. How long have you been presenting Fit to Drive programs?

I have been a F2D presenter since 2008.

2. What is your motivation for being involved in road safety education for young people?

As firefighters we are often first on the scene at road crashes. I, like all firies, have seen far too many people killed and injured on the road.

Fit to Drive provided me a chance to do something about reducing deaths and injuries to young drivers and passengers. We don’t lecture to the students, we simply encourage young people to make good choices.

3. What’s one thing you hope young people take away from your presentations for Fit to Drive programs?

I hope they take away ‘confidence’! I would like young people to have the confidence to make good choices and not be influenced to make bad choices that could ruin their lives.

4. What advice would you give an education provider or community organisation who is interested in hosting a Fit to Drive program?

Make road safety a priority. Make it part of your school curriculum or activity schedule and allow your students or members to experience Fit to Drive.

Station Officer Rod O’Sullivan – Derrimut Fire Station

1. How long have you been presenting Fit to Drive programs?

I joined the program as a Leading Fire Fighter in 2004.

2. What is your motivation for being involved in road safety education for young people?

Witnessing firsthand the devastation a crash can cause and the lifelong impact it causes motivated me to get involved, be proactive where I could and  help a new driver develop skills which, hopefully help them to avoid a life-changing accident.

3. What’s one thing you hope young people take away from your presentations for Fit to Drive programs?

If it doesn’t feel right – say something, do something.

4. What advice would you give an education provider or community organisation who is interested in hosting a Fit to Drive program?

Hear what the young people are saying , don’t TELL THEM , let them tell you. Provide guidance but trust their judgement, they’re our future.

Leading Fire Fighter Ian Burke – Sunshine Fire Station

1. How long have you been presenting Fit to Drive programs?

I’ve been presenting Fit to Drive for 6 years.

2. What is your motivation for being involved in road safety education for young people?

As a Father of two children and knowing many family friends with children, I like to feel that I am contributing to them and others being safer on our roads and as passengers

3. What’s one thing you hope young people take away from your presentations for Fit to Drive programs?

An understanding that it is okay to speak up when something doesn’t feel safe, even if that may be unpopular with others at the time.

4. What advice would you give an education provider or community organisation who is interested in hosting a Fit to Drive program?

As an ex-teacher, I just wish this was available when I was involved in organising such activities for my students. I cannot recommend the Fit to Drive program highly enough. It is vital for all young people and in my opinion, it should be a non-negotiable in all of our schools

Station Officer Karl Smith – Nunawading Fire Station

1. How long have you been presenting Fit to Drive programs?

I have been presenting on behalf of the Fire Brigade for Fit to Drive since 2014.

2. What is your motivation for being involved in road safety education for young people?

 Prior to the Fire Brigade I was a Secondary Teacher and had seen how a school community can be affected by tragedy. I have been a Heavy Rescue operator in the Fire Brigade for 11 years and I have also seen the repercussions of young drivers getting it wrong with decision making. My motivation is to help teenagers make better choices as drivers, passengers or bystanders.  As well my motivation comes from the fact, I have two teenage children (one learner driver) that are going through all the pressures of being a teenager. This program helps me as parent to help my children make better choices.

 3. What’s one thing you hope young people take away from your presentations for Fit to Drive programs?

Decide to “speak up” if something is wrong.  Decision making under pressure is a skill that needs strategy and practice.  Your choices as a driver, passenger or bystander can affect everyone around you. In the Fit to Drive case study there are multiple examples of decision making and choices that affected many people. The Fit to Drive program helps to develop that the decision making skill and provides strategies for teenagers to make better choices and find their voice to “speak up”.

4. What advice would you give an education provider or community organisation who is interested in hosting a Fit to Drive program?

To Educators and Community groups, the Fit to Drive program provides a real life scenario of young people in relatable situations that made avoidable choices that lead to tragedy. This program provides young people with skills to navigate those choices in their own life to make them better drivers, passengers and bystanders. This program is not about driving skill but about decision making skill. The program explores the role of Police and their role in Road Safety. Fit to Drive explores how decision making can be affected by internal and external pressure as a young person. Fit to Drive then works with young people to develop strategies to encourage better choices as drivers, passengers or bystanders in the area of road safety.

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