The scene looked grim and just like the images, but when it comes down to the dangers of drinking and driving, it is no laughing matter.
The “mock crash” set up by emergency crews Thursday, May 12 at Ponoka Secondary Campus (PSC) painted a stark picture of the realities of a collision and the many resources used by emergency agencies that respond to a collision. In this case, RCMP school resource officer Cst. Jackie Tessel organized the event to show students the dangers of drinking and driving.
Four young actors at PSC helped create a realistic scene in which two vehicles were set up as if they crashed, one of which was driven by a drunk driver. One actor played a victim fatality — she wasn’t wearing a seat belt — another played a person trapped in the vehicle needing extrication and one more person was injured.
The scene was depicting what was unfolding right after the collision.
Understanding the amount of resources needed to handle a collision became only too clear as RCMP and Sheriffs with the Integrated Trafffic Unit, EMS crews with Guardian Ambulance, members of the Ponoka Fire Department, Ponoka Victim Services, STARS Air Ambulance, a collision analyst and Wombold Family Funeral Homes all get called to the scene.
The mood took on a more somber tone when the hearse pulled up to collect the “victim.”
While the visuals may be macabre, it also highlighted the dangers of drinking and driving. Tessel said the simple choice of driving while drunk, as depicted in the mock crash, showed how much goes into saving people’s lives. “It’s not Hollywood. It’s not pretty.”
PFD Fire Chief Jamie Wilkinson said the goal is to show the importance of avoiding drinking and driving and distracted driving. “Obviously you see the consequences that could result in an incident like this.”
He added that it shows how an accident could be a cause for strong emotional response. Several emergency crews had mics on to let students listen in on the emergency scene.
It allowed students to see how Ponoka Victim Services (PVS) steps in to comfort someone involved and how the fire department handles an extrication. Tessel said PVS provides a vital piece in helping individuals, which allows police to take care of investigations.
It’s important for all the different agencies to have a working relationship and open lines of communication.
Darryl Dirsten, supervisor of operations for Guardian Ambulance, said hosting a mock crash helps students understand the number of emergency workers come into play when saving people’s lives. In this case not only does it have emergency agencies called to action but also hospitals and their staff to deal with injured patients as well as the family members involved, he explained.
A different perspective
The young actors who took part in the mock crash found the experience eye opening.
Playing the part of the drunk driver was Connor Archibald, who said the amount of resources involved in dealing with the crash was surprising. Playing the part of the victim was Karen Green, who had to lay on the ground throughout the scene until the hearse came in to collect her.
“You could feel the intensity of everyone,” said Green.
What struck her the most was how one accident and one choice can have lasting affects on everyone involved. Caitlyn Bolze played the friend of Green and she had to act out the part of grieving for the victim. It added to the intensity of the scene. Bolze said the mock crash also points out the importance of wearing a seat belt.
Adding to the chaos was Nicholas Parent, who was trapped in the vehicle. The fire department performed an extrication as if Parent was actually trapped by removing the doors and cutting out the glass, which added to the realism of the mock crash. “I’m still in a surreal state,” said Parent of the extrication.
For him it the choice is clear. Don’t drink and drive. “It affects everyone.”