Perth police officer opens up about traumatic event

Constable Sabrina Ballerini, acting Sgt Phil Dawson, Constable Blake Morrissey and First Class Constable Karyn Foxton with their certificates of outstanding performance presented by acting assistant commissioner Craig Donaldson. Photo: David Baylis. d494621 www.communitypix.com.au
Constable Sabrina Ballerini, acting Sgt Phil Dawson, Constable Blake Morrissey and First Class Constable Karyn Foxton with their certificates of outstanding performance presented by acting assistant commissioner Craig Donaldson. Photo: David Baylis. d494621 www.communitypix.com.au

IN a field where they “regularly see death”, a team of Perth police officers have been recognised for their life-saving acts.

The team of four Scarborough Police officers were first responders to a suicide attempt in Nollamara in May, acting quickly upon arriving at the confronting scene.

Constable Sabrina Ballerini said she and First Class Constable Karyn Foxton, acting Sergeant Phil Dawson and Constable Blake Morrissey discovered a young woman “unresponsive” and “quite blue”.

They moved quickly to help her and provided lifesaving first aid until ambulance officers arrived, with the woman eventually recovering.

“We all collaborated, we all had roles,” she said.

The traumatic experience occurred during Const Morrissey’s first week on the job.

WA Police awarded the officers with certificates of outstanding performance for their efforts.

Const Ballerini said they were generally first responders to incidents including non-suspicious deaths and self-harm incidents.

She said the event was not an uncommon occurrence for officers and did not believe people understood what they regularly experienced.

“It’s a fairly usual thing to turn up to a job like that,” she said.

“But I think you still dread it.

“We’re generally there before the ambos and we don’t have medical training.”

Constable Sabrina Ballerini. Photo: Martin Kennealey

Police have access to counselling but Const Ballerini said she did not use it after this incident.

“We just support one another. We make sure we talk about it,” she said.

“You can’t pick what situation is going to replay on your mind.

“But I think that’s all part of the joys and satisfaction of the job.”

Scarborough Senior Sergeant Craig Wanstall commended the officers for their actions that he said “no doubt” saved the woman’s life.

“It was a stressful and confronting situation and our people acted professionally and I commend them for their actions,” he said.

He said they “regularly see death” and dealt with similar incidents at least a couple of times a year.

A WA Police spokeswoman said its health welfare and safety division incorporated police chaplains, psychologists and a team of experienced police officers who worked closely with front-line officers to provide support.

“At any time, police officers and their families who wish to obtain support can avail themselves to an array of services provided by the division,” she said.

“Members of the division also often proactively make contact with officers involved in critical incidents, with the chaplains and psychologists regularly attending these incidents to provide support at scenes.”

For 24/7 crisis support, call Lifeline WA on 13 11 14.

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