I had the opportunity last week to watch as an anti-drunk driving program was held at the Escanaba High School.
This “Every Fifteen Minutes” program has been put on for years by the Public Health Department in Menominee County, but this was the first time it has been done in Delta County.
It involved a man dressed as the Grim Reaper taking kids out of class, one by one, and dressing them in black. That signified the “statistics” of how many people are killed by drunk driving every day in this country. But then came the hardest part.
Everyone was told to go into the parking lot. And that’s where several Escanaba High School students played out a drunk driving accident where one of their friends was killed and another was trapped in the car. I though Craig Kamin and Paige Wendt did an outstanding job of acting it out. And then all of the law enforcement came with their lights on.
Public safety. Rampart. State Police. Sheriff. Jaws of Life to saw off the top of one of the cars. Bottles of booze and empty cans of beer on the pavement nearby.
Then the hard part. Parents showing up to identify their loved ones and believe me, that emotion was raw. It was fake and the mom knew it was coming. But can you imagine her mindset, even though she knew her kid was OK and “gone” at a nearby motel?
The cops and EMS personnel ran through all of their procedures. Obviously, they know how to handle these accident scenes because they’ve had to deal with them far too many times.
I’ve been to many “scared straight” events put on by police and health professionals before. I’ve seen Mothers Against drunk Driving wrecked cars on display in front of schools. I’ve seen the DARE signs posted around campuses. But THIS PROGRAM was different. It was personal. It was emotional. And it felt like the real thing.
My hope is that even one kid who watched this will think twice and not get behind the wheel the next time he or she is at a party. In fact, this past weekend, there were likely parties around the county. Maybe this program already got a kid to think twice, and we did NOT have a tragedy on our hands.
If so, let’s hope the effect of the program lasts.