Firefighters and EMTs from West Grove Fire Company performed a "mock crash" for Avon Grove High School seniors on Friday, part of biennial effort to remind young drivers of the dangers of distracted driving.
The event was put together by WGFC fire safety education coordinator Lisa Glass and the school's SADD chapter (Students Against Destructive Decisions). The mock crash is held every two years and is typically scheduled just before the prom as a stark wake up call for students about the dangers of impaired or distracted driving. SADD used to be known as Students Against Drunk Driving , but with the rise of cell phone use, text messaging and other distractions, the effort has shifted to draw attention to distracted driving (from music, cell phones, and other teens in the car) as a real danger for young drivers.
With the help of Blittersdorf’s Towing, two damaged cars are positioned in the parking lot next to the high school. Student actors are given realistic makeup to simulate serious injuries, and placed in the vehicles -- one of whom is positioned as partially ejected from the windshield. The cars are then covered up with tarps until the AG students are in position to observe. The tarps are then removed to reveal the simulated auto accident, which is very realistic. With the help of a moderator/announcer, the students learn the head on crash was caused by a student who was distracted, and they listen and observe as the Fire Company personnel performs an emergency response -- from dispatch, to arrival, to assessment and through the use of rescue tools to free the trapped victims.
Two ambulances, a rescue truck and fire engine arrive with lights and sirens sounding, and perform as they would at a real crash. The offending driver is removed and turned over to the troopers from the Avondale Barracks of the PA State Police, who interview the driver and ultimately arrest him for distracted driving. Meanwhile crews using the "jaws of life" rescue tools cut off the doors and roof of the second car to gain access to a student driver who failed to wear a seatbelt (a destructive decision in its own right) and was partially ejected from the windshield. After the roof of the car is removed, the driver of the second car was pronounced dead.
All of this is described in detail by the announcer who helps the students comprehend what they are seeing, and why it is so important to be focused on driving at all times. After the rescue operation was completed, the students heard from the fire company representatives and the state troopers about the dangers of distracted drivers, and the risks of drinking and driving. Then the students were able to move closer to the cars and fire equipment to see up close the damage, the fire company's tools, and ask questions.
At each mock crash, it is clear that the students are moved by the stark and important messages. Students were quiet, focused on the action, and taking some pictures -- but clearly were very in tune with the scene in front of them. As a further reminder of the important messages, the damaged cars were relocated to the front of the school where they will remain until the end of the school year.
WGFC thanks the student victims, the AG High School staff, the SADD chapter, Blittersdorf’s Towing, and the PA State Police. Thanks to Attel Logic for the photos.