Mock collision highlights perils of drinking and driving
Wednesday, May 07, 2014 06:00 am
A shrill scream erupts from the crowd of high school students gathered around a car crash just steps away from the front doors of their school.
A girl darts out from amongst the bystanders. She hovers over her friend who has been thrown from the driver’s seat of a car that has been rear-ended by another. The driver is unconscious and bleeding on the pavement.
“Oh my God! Oh my God! Help!” she yells hysterically.
A fire truck, ambulance and RCMP cruiser screech to a halt in front of the scene, lights and sirens blaring.
“This is a typical Sturgeon Comp day, right?” asks Const. James Short, Morinville RCMP officer.
Only once a year does this scene unfold at the steps of Sturgeon Composite High School in Namao.
It is a mock collision staged by the RCMP with the help of the Namao Fire Department, EMS and county bylaw officers. The actors are high school drama students – adorned with ripped clothes, bloody faces and all. Highway 28 Towing donated the cars.
The goal of the exercise is to show students the implications of impaired driving, explains Short.
Sturgeon’s graduation celebration is only two weeks away and staging this event shows students just how serious drinking and driving can be.
Meanwhile at the scene, EMS load a critically injured patient into the ambulance. Firefighters use the Jaws of Life to rip open the driver’s door of the second vehicle.
The scenario not only gives students a behind-the-scenes look at how a car crash unfolds, but is practice for EMS and firefighters.
“For some of our guys that haven’t touched (hydraulic) tools on an actual collision, this gives them some great practice,” says John Bale, senior captain of Namao Fire Services. “Having the drama club here also gives it that realism – we usually use a mannequin.”
As the driver of the second vehicle is removed, a beer can rolls onto the ground from the front seat.
“The officer has detected an odour of alcohol on this person’s breath,” says Short, narrating the scenario.
The man blows into the roadside screening device and it registers a fail. He is then arrested and will be taken back to the detachment to take a breathalyser to determine his blood alcohol level.
“Alberta is one of the two leading provinces for impaired driving. From 2008 to 2012, 471 people were killed,” says Short. “The average age for impaired is 19 years old. That’s a scary fact.”
“Drunk driving is terrible and I’m glad that the school can present that. People need to know,” adds Kayla Stewart a 17-year-old student at Sturgeon Comp.