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Central High School students learned the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a realistic crash scene demonstration on Friday afternoon.

Held just ahead of prom night, the students witnessed what happens at the scene of a deadly DWI-related traffic accident.

Area schools will typically hold demonstrations like this before prom night when students are statistically more likely to engage in driving under the influence. Some schools hold their mock demonstrations every other year. 

The mock crash scene was put together with the help of several emergency workers and agencies including the Park Hills Police Department, St. Francis County Ambulance District, Park Hills Fire Department, Leadington Fire Department, Air Evac, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and Coroner Jim Coplin.

The demonstration took place in the student parking lot behind the school and lasted about 45 minutes.

The re-enactment featured two vehicles that were staged in a head-on collision scene. One student actor was "dead," hanging half-way out of one of the vehicles.

Everything began as a student volunteer, from the audience, placed an actual 911 call reporting the accident. Shortly after the call, an actual dispatch could be heard coming over the organizer's radios. Then, sirens could be heard in the distance.

First on the scene was an ambulance, followed quickly by several firefighters. The emergency workers quickly raced into action preparing EMS supplies and extraction equipment including the hydraulic “Jaws of Life.”  

A white sheet was placed over the deceased and the injured students were extracted from the vehicles and loaded onto support stretchers. The student playing the driver was taken into custody for suspicion of driving under the influence.

Air Evac was called and a helicopter landed by the parking lot in the field behind the bleachers.  

“The main reason these [demonstrations] are so important for us is because, unfortunately, we will run a call like this after prom,” said Park Hills Fire Chief Brad Weiss. “It's almost expected, the night of prom, that we’ll have a bad accident involving underage teenage drinkers or the use of drugs.”

Weiss explained that some people don't understand what happens after an accident call is placed.

Demonstrations like these show the students the time and effort it takes to actually work an accident scene.

Weiss coordinated the entire scene in advance so units were staged, and ready to rescue the “victims” very quickly. It took about a week to put this event together but in an actual emergency call, the coordination of different departments and EMS personnel happens within minutes.

At the conclusion of the demonstration, the students heard from a member of the highway patrol who explained to them the importance of taking these matters seriously and avoiding the use of drugs and alcohol when operating a motor vehicle.

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Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3628, or at bradford@dailyjournalonline.com.

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