Assistant Commissioner Municipal Police, Surrendra Sagramsingh (1st from right), and a group of officers from the Trinidad and Tobago Municipal Police Service who collected their awards for dedicated service. (Image courtesy Arrive Alive)

Eighteen persons from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, and 21 persons from the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service, were among 116 first responders honoured by Arrive Alive, at its 8th Annual Road Safety Awards Ceremony, sponsored by BHP Trinidad and Tobago.

The Awards, which were broadcast virtually for the second time, took place on Tuesday 29th March 2022.

Arrive Alive paid tribute to essential workers from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, with 18 awardees; Trinidad and Tobago Municipal Police Service, with 14 awardees; Ministry of National Security Transit Police Unit, with five awardees; Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service, with 21 awardees; Global Medical Response of T&T, with nine awardees; and Ministry of Works and Transport, with 49 awardees.

“Arrive Alive is once again recognizing the work of our first responders, police, fire and road safety officers for their continued service and the genuine care and attention they have given the country during the two years of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sharon Inglefield, Arrive Alive’s President.

Observing that the pandemic continues to put a strain on essential workers, Mrs. Inglefield appealed to citizens to consider these already strained essential workers in the protective services and medical fields before leaving home to socialize, and while using the nation’s roads.

“By making more thoughtful choices as road users, we want to make sure we’re responsible, understanding there are consequences to our actions,” the Arrive Alive president said.

“We should organize ourselves before going out to parties or gatherings, designating a sober driver, booking a taxi, getting enough sleep so drivers don’t fall asleep at the wheel,” she recommended.

The Arrive Alive president added: “Better choices by drivers would amount to fewer accidents and therefore, less pressure on our first responders, police officers and healthcare workers.”

Assistant Commissioner of Police/Operations, Joanne Archie, brought remarks at the Awards Ceremony on behalf of Acting Commissioner of Police Mc Donald Jacob.

ACP Archie was high in praise of the police officers, whom she noted, “are nothing short of heroes on our nation’s roadways, operating as first responders in emergency situations in a pandemic, with a highly mobile public”.

She also acknowledged the great risk in which they place themselves, when they report to work every day.

“Your sacrifices and dedication cannot be fully understood or overstated,” she stated.

ACP Archie noted that in 2021, there was a 22% reduction in both fatal road traffic accidents and road fatalities.  She attributed this drop to enforcement, monitoring and response by police officers, asserting that these operational areas are being continuously refined.

The ACP/Operations also urged police officers to uphold the law, to restore a sense of level-headedness and discipline on the nation’s roads.

Like ACP Archie, Minister of Works and Transport Senator Rohan Sinanan, also cited statistics that show a continuous decline in fatal road accidents over the last four years.

“We have implemented policies that have proven to lower speed and prioritize the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and other road users,” Minister Sinanan explained.  “We are in the process of developing a Comprehensive National Transportation Master Plan which will synchronize all our transportation efforts with the aim of promoting greater road, land and sea safety.”

He also noted that in 2021, Trinidad and Tobago adopted the United Nations Global Plan for a Decade of Action for Road Safety.  The Plan, he said, sets out an explicit target to reduce road deaths and injuries by at least 50% during the period 2021-2030.

Minister Sinanan said currently, his Ministry is undertaking a comprehensive national review of the national transport network to improve the safety of existing road networks, as well as tackling the problem of speeding by drivers.

During a commemorative moment in the Awards Ceremony, the mother of an accident victim spoke about the pain of losing her son in a fatal car crash.

Joann John-Herbert lost her son Brandon Michael John in April 2021. The heartbroken mother remembered sharing a hearty meal with her son. In sharing the details of this cherished memory, she captured the devastating trauma of suddenly losing a loved one in a car accident. 

Mrs John-Herbert said Brandon was in the fatal accident that took him away from her less than half an hour after that last family meal, and she never got to say goodbye.

She revealed that her loss was tremendous, one from which she is still recovering, as Brandon was, “the family’s breadwinner and a father figure to his younger siblings.”

Mrs John-Herbert expressed her gratitude for the support she has received, and is still receiving, from the Arrive Alive team.