On Tuesday, May 6, at 8 a.m., the east parking lot of the Paonia High School was the scene of a mock two-vehicle accident with students trapped in vehicles screaming for help following a traffic accident where two cars had collided, causing one to roll, ejecting one student and trapping several others.
A drunk driver stumbled around the scene and checked his friends as two other students arrived and called 911 and pleaded for help to arrive.
Thankfully this was not real life and no students were injured. The accident scene was staged as part of the 2014 mock DUI crash, an informative and real life re-enactment of a multi-vehicle traffic accident for the student body of Paonia High School, hosted by the North Fork Ambulance, Colorado State Patrol and Paonia Fire Department.
While not an actual accident, the scene and actors were made to look like real victims of a car crash with severe, life-threatening injuries. One student role-played as a deceased victim in the crash. The purpose of the accident was to re-enact the horrible scenes, death and injuries caused when students choose to make the wrong decision and drink alcohol or abuse drugs and then try to drive home with their friends.
The mock DUI crash program alternates between Paonia and Hotchkiss High School every two years. This year, eight student actors from Paonia High School were given realistic “injuries” such as open fractures, lacerations and avulsions, and lots of fake blood. The actors were placed in various positions in two smashed vehicles to re-create having been involved in a two-vehicle, rollover accident in a remote area of Paonia following a graduation party.
The mock crash provides students a real-life look at the physical and emotional trauma sustained by the occupants of a vehicle during a traffic accident, while also serving as a much needed training exercise for Delta County first responders. Multi-vehicle traffic accidents where multiple occupants are injured and/or even killed affect not only the friends and families of accident victims but also the EMTs, firefighters and law enforcement officers who respond and provide life saving measures to these people. Nowhere are emergency responders more affected than during the response to a scene where multiple teenagers are involved.
The primary objective of the 2014 mock DUI crash was to educate and inform the students of Paonia High School that their decisions have consequences, which may not only carry criminal charges but also lifelong physical and emotional injuries as well. As a small community, even a car accident can touch many lives.
The mock crash program is a way for EMS, fire and law enforcement to prepare themselves for the worst while educating our youth and doing whatever possible to prevent even one student from choosing to drink and drive this graduation season.