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Monash study uncovers crash scene danger

Monash study uncovers crash scene danger

Research from Monash University has uncovered the factors that increase the risks for police, paramedics and firefighters at high-speed crash scenes.

Previous studies in Australia and overseas shows first responders working on roads where the speed limit is 70km/h or greater are at significant risk of being injured or killed.

The Monash study shows emergency workers responding to high-speed road crashes are in greater danger due to a lack of communication between different agencies - and the actions of other motorists.

Lead researcher Dr Sharon Newnam says the Monash findings could save lives.

"You're talking about a workforce that is very high risk ... high-speed roads are a dynamic and volatile situation," she told AAP.

The research surveyed 300 first responders from across Australia, and found they attended seven high-speed crashes every month on average.

And at crash scenes they would be exposed to three near misses and one secondary crash each month on average.

Police, paramedics and firefighters all said motorists are a major threat to their safety, with rubbernecking, distracted driving, and speeding near crash scenes.

"The general public are not concerned that someone is trapped and injured. We are working best to save a life, but they do not care, as they want to get from Point A to Point B," one paramedic told the researchers.

The survey found these risks increased because the emergency responders weren't communicating effectively between agencies, and often lacked clarity on their roles at the crash scene.

"There's currently no training to help them co-ordinate, and that's critical," Dr Newnam said.

Previous studies have shown that the risk of a crash can be up to six times higher when there's another crash on a high-speed road already.

And for each extra minute the initial crash remains on the road, the risk of another crash increases by almost three per cent.

The Monash paper found outcomes improved, with fewer near misses and secondary incidents, when roles were clearly defined.

The research was undertaken with the involvement of emergency services and Eastlink and will be used to develop inter-agency communication training.

It was published on Thursday in the journal PLOS One.