In traffic safety, we talk a lot about crashes, their causes, how to prevent them, and even fatality statistics, but oddly enough, hardly any attention is paid to those who survive serious ones, even with life-changing consequences. We need to change that.
This month, I’m super-pleased to introduce Dawne McKay, founder of the Crash Support Network and the author of a book called Talk Crash to Me. Dawne survived a horrific motor vehicle crash that left her with multiple injuries, including brain trauma, caused by a distracted driver. As she faced her long recovery from this life-changing incident, Dawne took it upon herself to not only build the support she was seeking but to spread it to others in similar situations.
She has since created a unique, one-of-a-kind, highly informative website that provides helpful resources—“created by a crash survivor for crash survivors.” And Crash Support Network is truly remarkable, covering medical, legal, rehabilitation, insurance, transportation support, and mental health issues as well as survivor stories. Her book is equally invaluable, offering nitty-gritty practical advice for both the immediate aftermath of a traffic crash and the longer-term recovery challenges.
Read our interview below. Sadly, almost all of us either know someone who’s been in a serious crash or have experienced one ourselves. Help spread the word! —Mi Ae
Contact Information: Dawne McKay, crashsupportnetwork.com
ML: How did you get interested in creating Crash Support Network? After all, most kids don’t think, “When I grow up, I want to survive a crash and become a road safety advocate.”
What a great question! I will admit that, as a child, I never thought I would survive a horrific, life-changing motor vehicle crash and become an advocate for crash survivors. Although I had great support from family and a wonderful rehabilitation team in place as I started my recovery journey, I still felt terribly alone and desperately needed to speak to another survivor facing the same challenges as myself.
When I started searching for support groups, I was shocked to realize there wasn’t anything. I took it upon myself to not only build the support I was anxiously seeking but also to spread it to others who were in similar situations by creating the Crash Support Network.
Launched in 2019, Crash Support Network is a unique, one-of-a-kind website that provides helpful resources for crash survivors. Our mission is to provide online support and resources and to raise awareness for survivors and loved ones affected by motor vehicle crashes. Although I run both the website and the online support group virtually from my home in Ontario, Canada, we have members, followers, and subscribers from all around the world.
ML: How exactly does Crash Support Network help crash survivors and their families? I have not heard of that many resources for crash survivors—and do you feel that your organization is unusual in serving them?
You are absolutely correct—there aren’t many resources for crash survivors, and I thank you for acknowledging this. When I was recovering, I desperately wanted to connect to another crash survivor who was experiencing the same feelings as I was, because I felt so overwhelmed and isolated. I was also suffering from a huge sense of loss.
Recovering from an unexpected motor vehicle crash is a daily constant struggle because you’re not only recovering physically, but you’re also struggling financially and emotionally.
Crash Support Network’s online support group has proven to be extremely beneficial, and we have close to a thousand members. Many supportive, inspirational conversations take place in our online support group on a daily basis and when other people share similar experiences, there is extraordinary empathy, encouragement, and understanding.
ML: Tell us about your quarterly newsletter. What does it feature?
Our Sharing our Recovery newsletters are designed to help pick up the pieces after you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle crash. We’re pleased to have just surpassed 1,000 loyal subscribers! Our quarterly newsletters are filled with highly informative articles and survivor stories that have been created specifically to support victims, survivors, and loved ones of motor vehicle crashes. If you or a loved one is recovering from a motor vehicle crash, we encourage you to subscribe. It’s free!
And we’re always on the lookout for contributors, so if you are a survivor of a crash and want to share your story, or if you’re a business or organization that supports crash survivors, we need you! Please mail us at [email protected].
ML: Do you have a particularly moving story or testimonial from a crash survivor who sought help from your organization?
I am so grateful to have virtually met so many wonderful and courageous crash survivors from all across the world. I am always moved when a crash survivor shares their story with us. Every survivor story is filled with such strength, resilience, and inspiration. Last year, a man shared a video of himself in our online support group taking his first steps in a rehabilitation clinic while his fiancée patiently waited. It wasn’t only the remarkable strength that he was showing us, but it was also his beaming smile directed at his fiancée that will forever leave a lasting impression on many of us.
Life continues for our loved ones while many crash survivors feel stuck trying to regain their lives back—they need encouragement. So many moments need to be acknowledged and celebrated as you’re recovering from a motor vehicle crash.
ML: Since you started Crash Support Network, what kind of feedback have you heard from crash survivors?
I am so thankful and grateful that I continue to receive such positive reviews from so many crash survivors. I have heard time and time again from survivors, “I wish I had known about you a long time ago, but I’m so thankful that I finally found you,” or “I felt so alone with my struggles after surviving a crash but I’m no longer alone.” Crash survivors are beyond grateful to have found their “safe space” as well as a highly informative website.
ML: What advice would you tell to any survivor of a crash?
Although it may seem extremely overwhelming and exhausting as you start your recovery, you will get through this. You are not alone. It is critical to your recovery that you have a rehabilitation team in place to support you, and you must always remember that every victory, whether big or small, is worth celebrating. I welcome you to join our online support group where we cheer each other on through encouragement, positivity, and inspiration.
ML: What advice do you have for any family member or friend of a crash survivor?
Whether it’s through friendship or family love, supporting recovery is one of the most profound ways to impact the life of a crash survivor. Please be patient, praise our progress, and be there for us when we need you. Connection, compassion, and understanding play unimaginably important roles in our recovery.
Friends and family sometimes experience a form of survivor’s guilt or feel uncomfortable around a crash survivor (like not knowing what to say or how to relate). Do you have any tips for how to constructively handle these awkward moments? Or what not to do or say?
As a survivor of a crash, our life is unexpectedly turned upside-down in a matter of seconds. We’ll be struggling physically, financially, and emotionally. Many survivors of a crash endeavor to find their new normal, and it is extremely difficult when they’re faced with significant changes in independence, job stability, and social life.
Many family members and friends will also feel anger toward the other drivers in the crash. Who can blame them? After all, surviving a crash can be life-changing, and they’re about to see their loved ones go through one of the most challenging times of their lives.
And please don’t blame us for behaviors that are out of our control, and do not rush a survivor’s recovery. Our injuries may or may not be visible or apparent to you, and our recovery could take years.
ML: Is there anything else you’d like us to know or how others can support Crash Support Network?
Survivors of motor vehicle crashes need to be aware that they’re not alone and support is available. If you or a loved one are recovering from a motor vehicle crash, I encourage you to join our online support group, subscribe to our newsletter, and have a look at my website (crashsupportnetwork.com), which is full of wonderful resources and articles.
I also recently self-published a book, Talk Crash to Me: What to Expect After Surviving a Motor Vehicle Collision and How to Manage Your Recovery, which is available on Amazon. In Talk Crash to Me, I share my personal experiences post-crash and what to expect as you recover, because it’s not just about surviving the crash as it’s much more than that—recovery can take months and possibly years. Where does a survivor find hope when they are left to face a life-changing incident that carries so many struggles? How do survivors feel less alone and move forward? Crash survivors want their lives back, and this book offers a template outlining what to expect after a crash and how to manage physically, emotionally, and legally.
Talk Crash to Me continues to receive remarkable reviews; many crash survivors are telling me that “it’s like a giant hug they desperately needed” and “I wish I had had this book when I started my recovery.”