Lessons from the wreckage
“IT was something you wouldn’t want yourself, your family or your friends to ever go through,” reflected Year 12 student Yasmin Stievano on her experience of playing a car crash victim during Thursday’s Emergency Services crash enactment.
Yasmin was standing in front of her graduating class covered in fake burns, ringed by four other ‘crash’ victims and a bevy of emergency services personnel.
The senior, her four classmates and Mossman, Port Douglas and Cairns emergency services had just acted out a grim scenario of the moments after a car crash.
Earlier, the senior class walked onto the oval and confronted the scene of a young girl splayed under a motorbike, trapped and unmoving with gashes painted onto her limbs.
A car, crumpled and wrapped around a tree was full of silent teenagers until one let out a blood curdling scream.
The scene had been set: a teenage driver was texting while driving his three mates home from a party when he ran into a motorbike rider, rendering the rider instantly quadriplegic.
The next hour was crucial and Year 12 students made sure they didn’t miss a second of it.
Police, ambos, firies, SES and of all things even a rescue helicopter descended on the scene and set to work ‘rescuing’ the injured teens.
The actors let out groans and cries for help, but no matter how hard they screamed the professionals remained calm, getting down to business.
The process was methodical and at times painfully slow as the experts tended to the victims and tried to extricate them from the mangled car.
Teenagers were engrossed by the unfolding scene .
For some, the scene became too real when an actor’s mother burst through the crowd, screaming and crouching over her ‘injured’ daughter.
A line of girls in the front row let out tears at the gravity of the situation and the realisation that this could happen to anyone.
Mossman auxiliary firefighter Andrew Petrack, who was narrating the events to the Year 12s, said the emotional response meant the exercise was a success.
“If this exercise saves even one person’s life, makes just one person think about the consequences, then we’ve done our job,” said Lt Petrack.
This year the services pulled out all the stops to educate the graduates on road safety.
An emergency rescue helicopter had flown up from Cairns, simulating what would happen in a genuine emergency, to transport the driver who had severe spinal injuries to the Townsville hospital.
After the exercise graduates were debriefed by a member of each of the emergency services and heard from their fellow classmates about what it felt like to act out the scenario.
Mossman Senior Constable Casandra Hill explained how the repercussions don’t stop once the victims have been transported to the hospital.
“For [Reilly] she will have to live the rest of her life as a quadriplegic, Dougie [the driver] will not only have that guilt but he will be charged with grevious bodily harm – that could mean jail time.”
For the students, who graduated the day after the exercise, this is a happy time but the exercise was a timely reminder that with adult privileges come very real adult responsibilities.
All too real: students look on as a “spinal patient” is prepared for the air lift