Driving home the message
Mock disaster at Ascension shows dark side of impaired, reckless driving
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.