Driv­ing home the mes­sage

Mock dis­as­ter at As­cen­sion shows dark side of im­paired, reck­less driv­ing

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION - BY TERRY ROBERTS

A young girl sits mo­tion­less in the car’s pas­sen­ger seat as a fire­fighter and an am­bu­lance at­ten­dant se­cures a brace around her neck and pre­pares to place her on a back­board.

Sev­eral other oc­cu­pants of the two ve­hi­cles stum­ble around out­side in the pour­ing rain, their faces cov­ered in blood and look­ing dazed and con­fused.

Not far away, a Moun­tie at­tempts to keep dis­traught on­look­ers away from the crash scene. There are screams of pain and agony and grief.

Sprawled on the hood of the car is a young man, his life­less body cov­ered in blood. He is later cloaked in a blan- ket, with only his right arm ex­posed.

Around the perime­ter of this chaotic scene, hundreds of wide-eyed stu­dents look on, get­ting an up-close and grip­ping vis­ual of what hap­pens fol­low­ing a mo­tor ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dent.

On this day, the screams and tears and blood are for dra­matic af­fect. The griev­ing mother is act­ing. The cars are not crum­pled, and the emer­gency re­spon­ders are sim­ply go­ing through the mo­tions.

“If we can save one life with this drama­ti­za­tion, then it’s worth­while,” says Va­lerie Fry, who chairs the Bay Roberts and area Crime Pre­ven­tion Com­mit­tee.

A se­ri­ous prob­lem

This was the scene on the park­ing lot of As­cen­sion Col­le­giate on Tues­day, Nov. 15.

The mock dis­as­ter was in­tended to drive home the dan­gers of im­paired and reck­less driv­ing, adds RCMP Const. John Clarke, who ini­ti­ated the event.

He said ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dents are one of the lead­ing causes of in­jury and death among young peo­ple, and “there’s usu­ally al­co­hol in­volved.”

There are no sta­tis­tics in­di­cat­ing the prob­lem is any worse in this re­gion, but he says such in­ci­dents are not un­usual.

“This is the re­al­ity of it. This is what hap­pens at an ac­ci­dent scene. This is what you will see,” he of­fers.

“The stu­dents need to get the mes­sage this can’t be tol­er­ated what­so­ever.”

The “ac­tors” on this day are stu­dents in the school’s drama 2206 course. Among them is Devin Drover, who is also stu­dent coun­cil pres­i­dent at As­cen­sion.

Drover de­scribes the mock dis­as­ter as “re­ally im­por­tant” and an ideal way to por­tray the con­se­quences of im­paired and reck­less driv­ing.

“It im­pacts fam­ily, friends and the school com­mu­nity,” Drover says. “I’ve seen peo­ple who def­i­nitely took some­thing from this pre­sen­ta­tion.”

Dur­ing an ear­lier dis­cus­sion among stu­dents in the drama pro­gram, Drover adds, nearly ev­ery­one knew some­one who was ef­fected by im­paired and dan­ger­ous driv­ing.

“It’s an is­sue we have to tackle or it’s go­ing to lead to more in­ci­dents in the fu­ture.”

As­cen­sion teacher Mary Ann Sheehan helps co- or­di­nate the school’s Smart Risk Pro­gram, and de­scribes the mock dis­as­ter as a way to “bring every­thing home and re­in­force that there are con­se­quences to your ac­tions and you should re­ally think highly about what you are do­ing dur­ing the week­end and dur­ing grad week­end and times like that.”

Look­ing for mem­bers

The event was just the lat­est ef­fort by the crime pre­ven­tion com­mit­tee to pro­mote safety in the re­gion, says Fry.

She hopes the mock dis­as­ter will make young peo­ple think twice about drink­ing and driv­ing, or get­ting in a ve­hi­cle with some­one who is im­paired.

Mean­while, Fry says the eight­mem­ber com­mit­tee is look­ing for new mem­bers, and also wants to spread its mes­sage through­out the Trinity-con­cep­tion re­gion.

Any­one want­ing to get in­volved can con­tact the RCMP or call Fry at the fol­low­ing: 786-9438.

Dis­traught on­look­ers and ac­ci­dent vic­tims are kept away from the scene by “Moun­tie” An­thony Nip­pard (right). Shown here are, from left, Sami King, an uniden­ti­fied stu­dent, Kristin Peach, Nip­pard and Devin Drover.

Emer­gency re­spon­ders wheel away a “fa­tal­ity” from the mock dis­as­ter ac­ci­dent scene.

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