The high school's juniors and seniors gathered in the student parking lot to watch a crash unfold from beginning to end while a narrator took them through the process as members of the Delaware State Police, Millsboro Volunteer Fire Department and Sussex County EMS worked on the scene.
After a year full of SAT tests, college applications, part-time jobs and graduation planning, high school seniors across the county are ready to cut loose and celebrate on prom night. But emergency response officials know all too well the result when teens find themselves in a situation where they’re driving late at night and aren’t experienced in dealing with emergencies, such as an encounter with a drunk driver.
This is the scene Sussex Central High School wants to avoid, and to help do so school officials teamed up with emergency responders and health care professionals to run a mock crash simulation on campus Monday morning.
The high school’s juniors and seniors gathered in the student parking lot to watch a crash unfold from beginning to end while a narrator took them through the process as members of the Delaware State Police, Millsboro Volunteer Fire Department and Sussex County EMS worked on the scene.
The idea behind the exercise is to provide students a glimpse of what can happen on the road late at night and to help those teens make proper choices, said Mike Love of the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. Love walked the Central students through the crash Monday morning.
“Emergency responders do this every day,” Love said. “We’re trying to give them an idea of what’s going on, what’s being experienced.”
Hundreds of teens witnessed firefighters work to safely and delicately perform a vehicle extrication as student actors portrayed the victims inside the car. Another student actor could be seen lying on the ground, portraying a passenger who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from the vehicle and killed.
Love said the hope is that those students taking part in the simulation will share with their friends how it felt being in that type of environment.
“You have a big choice to make this weekend,” Love told the students. “I trust that you’ll make a good choice and help your friends make good choices.”
Sussex Central Principal Jay Owens said while the high school has not experienced any fatal crashes during the time he has been with the school, it is something he never wants to see happen.
“Prom had a lot of kids on the roads,” he said. “A scene like this can show them the importance of buckling up and being safe. They see the consequences of not doing so.”
The mock crash is not only intended to keep kids from drinking and driving or encouraging them to wear a seatbelt; it also plays into texting while driving or managing a situation that involves aggressive drivers, says Michelle Arford, injury prevention coordinator for the Beebe Healthcare.
“From working in the emergency department, you see things that you just know are preventable,” Arford said. “It’s important to know that they’re driving a deadly weapon. This shows what can happen if you are not careful.”
Owens said he was happy to have the support of the county’s emergency response agencies in putting this event on.
“It’s just a powerful program,” he said.