Several responders to horror bus crash at Bacchus Marsh stayed back to help after working all through the night English Headline

Several health care workers from Grampians Health spent all night working before staying back to help the staff and students injured in a bush crash at Bacchus Marsh.

Students in years 9 to 11 and staff from Loreto College Ballarat were on their way to Melbourne very early on Wednesday morning to attend a “once in a lifetime opportunity” at a NASA Space Camp when a heavy-loaded truck slammed into the bus.

The collision pushed the bus carrying 27 students and four staff off the Western Highway and down an embankment before it rolled.

Chief executive of Grampians Health Dale Fraser revealed several first responders who had been on the night shift on Tuesday were forced to stay back and work extra hours to help the injured passengers.

“We had a lot of night shift staff who otherwise be coming off shift and they stayed on and worked extra hours, went above and beyond the call of duty to provide care,” he said.

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“We had a makeshift site for parents up there providing care and comfort as best we could.

“I certainly would commend staff for the work they did and acknowledge the substantial challenge that this creates for parents who have the uncertainty and clearly for those involved in the accident themselves.”

The incident caused Grampians Health to declare a Code Brown which alerts staff that there is a need for extra resources which resulted in the night shift workers to stay behind.

Grampians Health received 16 patients from the site with at least 11 having now returned home following medical clearances but all victims are in a stable condition.

The most serious of the injuries saw one teenage girl airlifted to Royal Children’s Hospital in a serious but stable condition, while a woman in her 40s was taken by ambulance to Royal Melbourne with upper body injuries in a similar condition.

One witness told 7 News he had realised one girl’s leg had been partially amputated in the accident when he was helping the students out of the bus.

“Instantly your heart sinks, but then to get there and find students, (it’s) another world,” he said fighting back tears.

“The worst one was a girl who had her leg partially amputated.

“Three of us got hold of her… we got her free and carried her out.

“(I) was just trying to calm her down, grabbing whatever we could to wrap her leg because we were conscious of her bleeding.”

Detective Inspector Roger Schranz from the Road Crime Investigation Unit said he was stunned there were no casualties adding the seatbelts on the bus likely saved several lives onboard.

“There are seatbelts fitted (on the bus but) we don’t know who had a seatbelt on (and) who didn’t,” he told reporters on Wednesday morning.

“But I would assume given so many did survive they would have had their seatbelts on.”

Loreto principal Michelle Brodrick said the school had been in close contact with the families of those students and staff involved updating them with information as it arose.

“We know they are in the best possible care and we’re pleased to report they are recovering and we are wishing them all the best and keeping them in our thoughts and prayers,” she said on Wednesday afternoon.

“I’ve spoke with quite a number of students and they are all wondering how everyone is going so we do want to convey that message that they are being supported and cared for in the best possible place.”

Detective Schranz said he believed an earlier accident further up the highway contributed to the horror accident.

Victoria Roads was clearing the accident, understood to involve another heavy vehicle, and fixing damage to the road barriers that were “destroyed”.

“The speed reduction signs were out. The bus has slowed down indicating to reduce speed,” he said.

“Then the truck has come around the corner and headed down towards the hill and it’s seen the speed reduction and the banked up traffic and collided with the bus, forcing the bus off the left-hand side of the freeway down the cliff.”

The speed zone of Western Freeway is normally 110km/h, with the detective revealing the limit had dropped down to 80km/h and then 40km/h closer to the first crash.

English Headline

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