Coates Hire’s employees were honoured by NSW police after they assisted at a fatal road accident.
On December 12, the employees at the Coates Hire Alexandria branch in inner-city Sydney were called into action when a truck crashed into neighbouring buildings.
The B-double truck veered off its southbound route on Botany Road at around 7:45 am, drove through northbound traffic and crashed into several buildings, tragically killing a woman and injuring several more.
Branch Manager Emmanuel Georgoudis says the whole branch building shook with the impact and the power went off.
“It was massive sound – my first thought was it must be an earthquake, everything was shaking, and when we looked outside there was a scene of devastation.”
Emmanuel’s first job was to ensure the safety of his employees, and then – being the designated ‘first aider’ at the branch – he went to the scene where injured people were being assisted. Alexandria branch driver, Lee, also ran to the scene to offer his assistance where he could.
The branch is Coates Hire’s busiest general tools and equipment outlet in Sydney and the staff on site at the time of the incident all pitched in to help the fire and police rescue effort.
Emmanuel closed the branch for the day, the three delivery drivers on the road at the time were diverted to the Camperdown branch, and the employees on site provided the emergency workers and injured people with water and toilet facilities throughout the day.
Prior to any emergency services arriving on the scene, the team – mainly Emily, Matthew and Shelley – redirected and held off heavy peak hour foot traffic from walking through several hazards including live power lines on the ground. Once police and fire personnel arrived the team continued assisting in diverting and cordoning-off the area.
The effort to free the driver from his cab required a platform with no sides, to give rescuers access to the injured driver. Coates Hire provided a scissor lift and through the quick thinking of branch employees Ryan, Mick and Lee, the scissor lift was quickly modified. The team also provided a forklift to help lift and remove rubble from the smashed building and allow police to continue their investigation. The Coates Hire yard was also used to store a car damaged by the runaway truck.
Emmanuel and his team received two commendations from the NSW Police: one from the NSW Police Rescue and Bomb Squad, for assistance and supply of equipment and support. The other commendation came from the NSW Police Superintendent, Andrew Holland, who delivered the commendation personally to the staff.
“It was a big day and we just did what we could to assist,” says Emmanuel. “We are all very sad about the woman who died and we were pleased that we could help make a bad situation slightly better for everyone concerned.”