EMS agency participates in high school drunk driving prevention event

One classroom was transformed into a trauma station where EMS providers demonstrated the critical steps a trauma team takes when working on an accident victim

By Sarah Pavlik-Hernandez
The News-Courier

ATHENS, Ala. — Athens High School seniors experienced first-hand the effects and consequences of drunk and distracted driving during a daylong drunk driving awareness event Wednesday, just a few days before many of them will go to prom.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Alabama Department of Transportation, State Farm Insurance, Alabama Beverage Control, Children's of Alabama, Athens Police Department and Athens-Limestone Emergency Medical Services joined forces for the day, working toward the common goal of instilling safe habits in teen drivers.

Moving from station to station, the 200-plus students who make up AHS's senior class experienced everything from trying to walk a straight line while wearing drunk goggles to operating a virtual simulator while texting.

One classroom was transformed into a trauma station where Adam Lansdon, the trauma coordinator for COA, demonstrated the first critical steps a trauma team takes when working on an accident victim. Strapped to a hospital gurney, one of AHS's own, Sydney Jones, lay stock still as Lansdon pretended to intubate her. He explained that most trauma victims have to be catheterized, describing the process in detail and then talking about fractures and breaks. Moving down Jones' "lifeless" body, Lansdon pulled on her right leg to show how a trauma team might have to set a broken bone. Most of the time, Lansdon said, these procedures are done without any pain medication, which can interfere with a brain injury diagnosis.

When Lansdon is not working on actual trauma victims at COA in Birmingham, he leads events like these.

"I want these kids to think about what goes on in a trauma unit every time they get behind the wheel," he said.

Out in the parking lot, students Carleigh Casillas and Lauren Chittam cheered on their classmate, Kourtnee Allen, as she maneuvered a golf cart around an orange-cone-lined track. With her drunk goggles set to twice the legal blood-alcohol limit, Allen side swiped an orange cone and brought the golf cart to a screeching halt.

Chittam said driving with the drunk goggles made a believer out of her. The goggles simulate the effects of impairment and can mimic the reduced alertness and slowed reaction times that results from both driving under the influence or from texting and driving.

"I'm definitely not going to be texting and driving," Chittam said.

Another group of students gathered in the school's theater where Dean Argo, the Government Relations Manager for the ABC board, fired drunk-driving-related questions to students in the crowd, tossing them miniature ABC-embossed footballs when they got the answers right.

"My job is to help students understand the emotional, social and legal consequences of binge drinking," Argo said.

After the football "Q and A," Sate Trooper Curtis Summerville stepped in, explaining to the group the legal repercussions of driving under the influence.

Pamela Morton, State Victims Service Coordinator for MADD wrapped up the session by sharing with students that they have the power to influence their friends and families to not drink and drive.

"They also have the power not to do it themselves," she added. "We want them to grow to be old men and women so they can sit on their front porch and tell their grandchildren what a great time they had at their prom."

"At the end of the day, MADD wants all mothers to get their children home safely," Morton said.

Now in its second year, the event was originally conceived by Derrick Brooks, one of the school's Security Resource Officers.

He wanted to better connect with students over issues like drunk and distracted driving.

"The kids are our future, we care about them," he said. "For me personally, I don't want to have to go to an accident where one of these kids are involved."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Treatment, automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers.

"From what the kids are telling me, they are getting it," Brooks said. "The virtual simulator and drunk goggles really help drive home the seriousness of it all."

Once students go through all the stations, they sign a pledge of abstinence, promising not to consume alcohol until they turn 21.

Copyright 2018 The News-Courier

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