Parkland Secondary students got a dramatic demonstration of the consequences of distracted driving, weeks before many will be celebrating their graduation.
Over lunchtime, emergency crews cut apart a car in front of the school to give students a firsthand experience of how a crash scene looks and sounds.
Sidney/North Saanich RCMP, North Saanich Fire, BC Ambulance and ICBC partnered with Parkland drama students who played the role of driver, passenger and witness. Const. Meighan de Pass of Sidney/North Saanich RCMP said early in her career, she attended a car crash with four high school students around the time of their graduation. Texting was not a factor, but alcohol was, and the driver was distracted because they were loud and messing with the stereo. Only one, she said, survived.
“That’s why we’re here,” said de Pass. “Prevention is the key.”
de Pass added that the presentation was not just meant to save their lives, but the lives of other strangers on the road who might be harmed by distracted drivers.
“For me it was very overwhelming because I have had people in the past that have passed away in crashes like that, so I thought it was overwhelming and powerful for me,” said Rachael Carter, who played the driver.
“It’s a strong message that we should share with everybody,” said Christian Breyer, who played the witness.
Steve Knapp, deputy chief of North Saanich Fire Dept., explained that a chief or duty vehicle will show up first so firefighters can assess the situation. The first truck is the rescue vehicle, “the toolbox on wheels,” explained Knapp.
“I’ll relay information, like ‘we’ve got one person entrapped, or one entrapped and one walking wounded, to paint the scene as best we can,” said Knapp.
The team on the rescue vehicle will then get to work. Hydraulic tools like the Jaws of Life and other cutters and spreaders are used to peel the car away from the injured persons.
“We’re seeing a huge amount of kids texting at the wheel,” said Knapp, who added that car crashes are some of the most emotionally affecting calls a firefighter can attend.
Colleen Woodger, ICBC Road Safety Coordinator, said Sidney/North Saanich RCMP approached ICBC as they saw many youth texting and driving. “So we pulled out all the stops, did whatever we could to bring the message home.”
“They get to see, hear, feel the emotion of the crash.”
Woodger said the exercise was also good for firefighters, who got to practice a vehicle extrication in a controlled setting.
The drama students did their own makeup, and worked with the police on their script. Peninsula Towing provided the vehicle, and a construction crew from Don Mann Excavating, who were working nearby, used their backhoe to crush the car.
ICBC strongly encourages people to take a break from their phones while driving, said Woodger.
“Car crashes are the number one killer of youth, so our role is to try and prevent these crashes and work with the students to make better choices behind the wheel.”