October 19, 2007 Features & Images » Feature Story

Preventing preventable deaths 

Twelve fatalities in nine months on Pemberton roads has first responders speaking out

click to enlarge The Message about driving responsibly seems to have been lost on some people.
  • The Message about driving responsibly seems to have been lost on some people.

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“When the RCMP have confirmed there’s a fatal, they call me out right away. I’m always at the scene,” she says.

The coroner sees her job as two-fold: as investigator and lay counselor.

“You’re dealing with the feelings of the next of kin as well as the other first responders.

“When you go to these very tragic accidents, first of all you have all the first responders who are all involved in these small communities. Everyone knows everyone else. You go into situations where you’re not only dealing with the families of these people, you may know the victim yourself, which has happened to me many times.”

The fact that so many of the recent MVAs have been speed and or alcohol-related deeply concerns MacFayden.

“It’s very frustrating to come up against this time and time again. And to see so many young people die. The average age of these people is 29.

“I am a mother of 13 children,” she says. “Together my husband and I have 13 children and 19 grandchildren. And we know as parents what it must be like for these families to lose children who have such potential, who haven’t realized their lives’ purpose yet. It’s so sad that these things are happening.”

MacFayden sees the Speed/Alcohol Stewardship Working Group as a positive step towards reducing these tragedies.

“We need to get the message out that not only has so-and-so died, but it’s due to speed and alcohol, it’s about making wrong choices. I’m only seeing the tip of the iceberg with the fatalities. Paul Vadik and his group of people, and the Tribal Police, they deal with these types of potential fatalities all the time. They save tons of lives here that I don’t know anything about until after the fact.”

MacFayden feels that with fresh incidents in mind, it’s easy to consider the potential perils of excessive speed and driving. In her mind, what’s needed is a sustained effort.

“We need to continue the focus on awareness,” she says. “This issue impacts not only our community, but communities around the province, people have relatives and friends everywhere. These tragedies have a far-reaching, ripple effect.”

MacFayden is confident that the working group will be able to sustain attention on the issues.

“We have come up with a variety of ideas that can be implemented throughout the year. As more and more people become involved it will gain momentum and takes on a life of its own. What we’re trying to do is build that momentum.”

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