Navy training kicks in after car crash

Navy’s strength of character to ‘do the right thing in the face of adversity’ was on display during a recent motor vehicle collision on the Kwinana freeway in Perth.

CAPTION: Petty Officer Richard Smith, first responder to a multiple-car accident in Perth, at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia. Story by Lieutenant Commander Will Singer.

Petty Officer Combat Systems Supervisor Richard Smith’s Navy training triggered into action when he witnessed a multiple-car accident and became the first responder while travelling with his wife and young daughter.

“I saw the car collide into multiple cars, acting like a pinball and knocking one car over,” Petty Officer Smith said.

“I pulled over to the side of the road and asked my wife to ring 000 while I assisted the rolled car, which was being driven by a woman travelling back from a holiday.

“When I got to her door, I noticed she was stuck and panicking inside the car. I asked a witness that was caught up in the incident if he had a stepladder inside his camper.”

The ladder enabled him to see the driver and he stayed and assisted her until they got her out of the car.

“I noticed the air bag had not gone off, so that was running through my head if it just decided to, so I kept her calm,” he said.

“I could see she was visibly in shock, so I just tried to keep her as comfortable as possible.

“The Navy training I have had over the 20 years of service helped me to stay calm, understanding what had happened and talking the victim through everything and keeping her calm.”

HMAS Stirling’s Commanding Officer Captain Gary Lawton said Petty Officer Smith’s actions were “selfless” and an example of the initiative and calmness under pressure that Navy seeks in its leaders.

“Petty Officer Smith’s ability to assess and take command of the situation, leveraging support from other witnesses and taking care of an injured person is inspirational and he is to be commended on his response and service to the community,” Captain Lawton said.

Petty Officer Smith grew up in Rockingham as a keen sportsman, and followed the footsteps of his uncle, who served for over 30 years, in joining the Navy.

He has served on many Anzac-class ships and completed multiple shore postings in the west.


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