It's the look on the faces of victims as they are pulled from the wreckage of a crashed car that haunts the chief paramedic at the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust.

For Road Safety Week this week, the Herald has spoken to five emergency services staff, who collectively have more than 120 years' experience in their fields and have attended at least 600 fatal crashes.

Intensive care paramedic Karl Taylor says over the past 19 years he's probably been to about 100 serious car crashes, some of which were fatal.

"I think there's a few that stick with me. Mostly involving young men and obviously children," he says.


"It's that horrible look that you see on their faces as you pull them out of the car. Clearly they didn't know it was going to happen to them today."

Taylor remembers his very first serious car crash years back and the "eerie feeling" that hung in the air then.

He says that feeling is still near impossible to shake.

"In some ways it gets worse. I think I've been to so many now that I really just don't need to see another one. But it's my job and that's what I do," he sighs.

"For myself now it's almost a draining feeling… that you're going to yet another car accident and someone again is very unwell."

When he can, the father of two lets off steam like the rest of us.

"I love to go for a run, I love to go to the gym and I love to go fishing," he says.

"And I love to spend time with my family; that really makes life worth living."


Taylor says when he gets home at the end of his shift, he likes it to be a haven, away from the chaos of it all.

"I tend to keep it from my family. I don't talk too much. I talk to my wife, she's fantastic," he says.

"Obviously I don't share it with my kids too much, although I've got teenage kids now who I've started to share a little bit of it [with]."

New Zealand's road toll

• 134 people had died as of May 4, 2018, compared to 127 at the same time last year

• 40 females have died compared to 29 at the same time last year, and 94 males have died compared to 98 at the same time last year

• 118 fatal crashes have taken place, compared to 116 at the same time last year

• More over-60-year-olds have died, than any other age group, with 38 fatalities so far. There were 18 deaths among those aged 20-24 and 30 people aged 25-39 have died.

• March is the worst month so far this year with 41 deaths. January is the next worst with 36 deaths.