Election Accidents that could have Ended in Disaster

Election Debate
The Australian Federal Election is less than one week away. Many politicians are on the move to garner as much support and publicity as possible, which could lead to accidents like falls, crashes, and even collapse.

With the Australian Federal Election less than one week away, we thought we would take this time to explore a different angle of the election process, in the hopes that this will offer a nice reprieve from the current onslaught of dark and gloomy political advertisements.

People often forget that, during the election process, politicians are operating at hyper-speed. Whether it's to visit marginal seats, fill a spot on television, or to record a radio segment, politicians seeking election are on the move constantly, which can increase their risk of accidents.

Today, we are going to discuss some accidents that have befallen politicians and had the potential to derail their election hopes. We are also going to briefly touch on how to manage these accidents from a first aid perspective.

PM Car Accident
On the Thursday before the 2022 Easter long weekend, four members of PM Scott Morrison's security detail were involved in a car accident. (Photo Credit: Jason Edwards/News.com.au)

Scott Morrison's Security Detail Crash

On Thursday 14 April 2022, an unmarked police car containing four members of Prime Minister (PM) Scott Morrison's security detail was involved in an accident. At the time, the car was following the PM on his campaign trail in Tasmania.

Initial reports indicated that the car was hit in the rear by a Mitsubishi Triton that was attempting to merge, which subsequently caused the former to roll down an embankment and land on its side. The four members of the unmarked police car - two Tasmanian Police officers and two members of the Australian Federal Police - were later transported to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

As a result of the crash, the PM cancelled his campaign activities for the remainder of the day. Instead, he used the opportunity to remind the public of the importance of road safety. In the event that you are the first aid responder to a car accident, DRSABCD should be followed.

Clive Palmer Fall
UAP leader Clive Palmer has had a couple falls this election season - one at the National Press Club on 7 April, and one at his Coolum Resort on Good Friday. (Photo credit: Alex Ellinghausen/The Sydney Morning Herald)

Clive Palmer's Stage Fall

Only one day after 4 members of the PM's security detail were involved in a car accident, United Australia Party (UAP) leader Clive Palmer was knocked unconscious and suffered a head wound after falling off a stage.

At the time, Palmer was rehearsing for an election advertisement campaign at his Coolum resort on the Sunshine Coast. He attempted to jump up on the stage set up, but instead fell backwards, hit his head, and lapsed into 20 seconds of unconsciousness.

Luckily, a first aid kit was on hand to tend to Palmer's injuries before he was transported to hospital, from which he was discharged only a short time later. In the event that you are the first aid responder to a head trauma, apply basic wound care and consult a medical professional or your closest emergency department for advice on how to proceed safely. If, at any point, the casualty stops breathing normally, follow DRSABCD and be prepared to perform CPR.

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton being escorted away from a ceremony commemorating 9/11, after experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion and dehydration. (Photo credit: Albin Lohr-Jones/People)

Hillary Clinton Faints

On 11 September 2016, presidential nominee Hillary Clinton became unsteady on her feet and seemed to faint while making an early departure from a ceremony commemorating the September 11 attacks.

Clinton had only been at the ceremony, which was held at Ground Zero in Manhattan, for a short while when she was ushered away by her security detail to wait for a van. When the van arrived, Clinton stumbled and leaned heavily on her aide, before being physically lifted into the back seat. She was subsequently transported to her daughter, Chelsea's, nearby apartment, and emerged a few hours later to wave and smile at waiting reporters.

Clinton's personal physician later revealed that the presidential nominee had been suffering from pneumonia, dehydration, and overheating. Overheating, which is also regarded as heat exhaustion, occurs when a person's body generates more heat than it can release. It typically occurs alongside dehydration, as water helps regulate one’s body temperature. If you are the first aid responder to a person suffering from heat exhaustion, follow the cooling treatment outlined in our Heat-Induced Illness Chart.

Yvette DAth
Yvette D'Ath was in the middle of delivering a speech about COVID-safe measures when a Huntsmen spider began crawling up her leg. (Photo Credit: John Gass/News.com.au)

Yvette D'Ath's Spider Attack

While delivering Queensland's daily COVID update on 16 December 2021, Yvette D'Ath, the state's health minister, stopped abruptly when she was alerted to a giant Huntsmen spider crawling up her leg.

D'Ath had been in the middle of explaining the importance of vaccine mandates and restrictions in keeping the community COVID-safe, when a nearby reporter spotted the Huntsmen crawling up the minister's leg. D'Ath pleaded for those nearby to get the spider off her, and Queensland's Chief Health Officer, Dr John Gerrard, subsequently chased the spider away with a piece of paper.

D'Ath was not harmed during her encounter with the spider, though she did admit: "I don't like Huntsmen". Huntsmen are not typically considered aggressive spiders; in fact, they are reluctant to bite and prefer to run away when approached. Likewise, their venom isn't dangerous to humans, though their bites can be painful. Bites from a Huntsmen spider should be treated as a possible bite from a Redback spider, the first aid for which can be found in our resource on identifying and treating spider bites.

Dan Andrews Accident
After falling down some wet stairs and breaking five of his ribs, as well as fracturing a vertebrae in the middle of his back, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews had to take over 100 days off work to fully recover. (Photo Credit: Dan Andrews/Twitter)

Dan Andrews's Stair Slip

On 9 March 2021, while leaving his Sorrento holiday home, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews slipped down the front stairs and landed heavily on his back.

According to the Premier, he was on his way to work when his foot slipped off the first step, which had been wet due to earlier rain. He subsequently "became airborne" and almost "horizontal with the step", before landing heavily on his back and hearing an "almighty crunch". The Premier likewise described being unable to call for help, as his breathing was becoming increasingly shallow. Luckily, his wife found him only a few moments later after hearing "groans of pain", and she immediately contacted the ambulance and their personal protection detail after noticing that the Premier was "going blue".

The Premier was subsequently transported to a specialist trauma centre at Alfred Hospital, where it was revealed that he had broken 5 ribs and fractured his T7 vertebra. This injury would see the Premier endure months of rehabilitation and over 100 days off work. If you are the first aid responder to a suspected spinal injury, call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance; conduct an initial examination with extreme care and encourage the casualty to remain still in the position they were found; support the casualty's neck and head region; monitor the casualty for shock and maintain their body temperature; and, treat any bleeding injuries per the basic wound care guidelines.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute, replace, or qualify as any form of first aid training.

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