Margaret River police assist with young boy's road to recovery

Nathan faced his fears and even became a temporary member of the police force. Photo by Matt Shand.
Nathan faced his fears and even became a temporary member of the police force. Photo by Matt Shand.

THE sound of sirens and sight of police in blue would normally cause excitement in a young boy, but for Nathan they bring back teary memories of a traumatic accident that occurred right before his eyes.

Running around in his borrowed policeman’s hat waving a green snake to and fro, you wouldn’t realise the young boy had just done the hardest thing in his life; turn on a police siren for the first time. 

It was not easy for him to climb into the police car.

It was even harder to turn on the flickering red and blue lights.

But the hardest moment was turning on the siren and making a piercing sound that had left him in tears ever since the accident in January.

Nathan however proved he is one brave three-year-old  

Nathan, his younger brother and his mother witnessed a head on collision with a motorcyclist in January where the rider collided with the windshield of their vehicle.

While they escaped uninjured from the crash, Nathan was left with emotional wounds from a memory he did not understand.

Nathan’s mother Kelly Simons said he used to ask constantly about the accident, recounting how he watched the police speak to his upset mother and then take the damaged car away as he tried to grasp what he had seen.

One moment that shone out of the confusion was that of a fire fighter detouring from the scene to the young boy, stopping to fill his drink bottle with cold water during the aftermath.

This was to be the only positive memory Nathan took from the experience.

Months after, Nathan would have no fear of the men in bright yellow, but the men in blue triggered memories of his upset mother.

“We encouraged him to discuss it, as challenging as it was,” Ms Simons said.

“All I wanted to do was not to talk about it; but I understand that’s how he coped.”

Last week they decided to pay the local police a visit to attempt to sooth Nathan’s ongoing fears.

Ms Simons said the idea had come from Lois Barugh, a family friend and surrogate grandparent to Nathan.

Mrs Barugh has volunteered with St John ambulance and had dealt with similar experiences.

Children experiencing an incident such as Nathan are encouraged to meet ambulance officers and explore the inside of an ambulance.

She thought the same concept might work for Nathan and flip his negative perception of police into a positive one.

“It was one way to try and help with the healing process,” Ms Simons said.

Waiting outside the station for Nathan was Margaret River police constable Jeremy Priest with a gleaming police car waiting to be explored.

Nathan tried his hand at the flashing lights and piercing siren, going straight for the elements that had once concerned him most.

Ms Simons said Nathan had come bounding towards her later, excited to tell his mum about his day.

“The first thing he said was how a police officer had given him a lolly and let him wear his hat,” she said.

Ms Simons wished to thank the police for the support they have shown towards their family.

She said with signs of post traumatic stress in children, it was far better to work with their unique means of expression rather than ignore it, as it was difficult for children to communicate their feelings at any given time, let alone an incident such as what they had been through.

Margaret River officer in charge Sergeant Brett Cassidy said the police would always offer support when families needed it.

“It’s always a bit distressing to see children involved in car accidents,” Sergeant Cassidy said.

“We try to help out as much as we can.”

Sergeant Cassidy said the community was fortunate as there were good support services around for those who needed help.

He advised families going through a similar situation to consult a medical practitioner who could provide children with ongoing assistance other than the reassurances the police provide.

Through the support of his family and the community, Nathan’s mum has seen signs of the experience fading, with the sweet taste of the green lolly and Nathan’s temporary employment in the police force the lingering memory.

This story One brave boy first appeared on Augusta-Margaret River Mail.