A series of high-profile events held to mark 999 Road Safety Week in Lochaber have been warmly welcomed by partners and the public alike.
On Monday 29 August, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) in Lochaber rolled out a new week-long initiative throughout the area to highlight road safety within the community.
The events which took place throughout the week were aimed at reassuring communities and visitors to Lochaber that road safety is at the heart of the work being done by all agencies and that the public also have a key role to play.
The Lochaber District Partnership, responsible for community planning on all matters related to health, social care and community safety in Lochaber, were keen to support heightened promotion surrounding road safety particularly for young drivers and other road users.
In response to this, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service - as a member of the Lochaber District Partnership - took the lead and devised an innovative and exciting road safety initiative in partnership with Highland Council, Police Scotland, Highlife Highland, Scottish Ambulance Service, Marine Coast Guard, British Red Cross, Breedon Aggregates Scotland, Fort William Rotary Club, NHS Highland and local driving instructors.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) Group Manager, Pat McElhinney, who chairs the Road Safety Group and attended the events said: "This is a unique partnership of public, private and voluntary sector organisations coming together for one important purpose, to help prevent road deaths and educate young people on the risks, and hazards, on our roads.
"All the station events and the massive multi-agency event last Saturday was seen as a huge success.”
The week’s events began with Fire Station Road Safety open evenings at Fort William, Acharacle, Kilchoan, Mallaig, Lochaline, Spean Bridge, Kinlochleven and Strontian Fire Stations. The week ended with a high-impact event on the Saturday held in the grounds of Lochaber High School.
The “Lochaber 999 Road Show” featured various sets, including high speed impact demonstrations by the Police Scotland, road traffic collision demonstrations by local SFRS crews, a casualty care demo and simulations by local Scottish Ambulance Service crews, emergency services equipment and vehicles showcase.
There was also a section on cycle awareness and a new young driver experience zone for 14-17 year olds where young people experienced driving a car, in a safe zone, with a qualified driving instructor.
There were various other activities on the day and members of the community got an insight into the work of the emergency services. It was also a chance to speak to the emergency services about career opportunities and pick up useful information on child safety.
One member of the public said Saturday's event was one of the best events they had ever attended for emergency services interaction.
Dr Michael Foxley, Joint Chair of the Lochaber District Partnership and a member of the SFRS Board attended and said: "We are all saddened by the tragedy of young lives lost, with families and friendships destroyed, by accidents on the roads in our region. If this initiative saves the life of one young son, daughter or friend it will have been a massive success.
"I strongly support the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service leading this important partnership work."
Highland's Local Senior Officer Scott Hay, who also attended the event,: "This event has provided us with an excellent model to take forward and build upon.”
Group Manager Antony Gardner, Prevention and Protection for Highland, also attended and said: "Thank you to everyone who attended, and these events, run this week, are an example of how we can work together for a common goal.
"I believe this will help reduce road deaths in the area and I thank GM Pat McElhinney for taking the time and energy to plan, organise and run these events this week."
This initiative has been designed to complement the Driving Ambition programme, which will be delivered to secondary five and six pupils around the same time.