GRAFTON—By all accounts Wednesday’s mock car crash held at the Grafton High School had the desired effects as there were no reports of any car accidents or anyone getting picked up or arrested during the community’s homecoming weekend.
“I think the students got it,” Grafton Principal Darren Albrecht said.
He also noted that no one was in a hurry to leave the dance on Friday.
“A lot of the older students and most of the seniors were still at the dance at midnight,” Albrecht said. “It was like 12:05 and we’re saying OK guys and girls it’s time to go. It was nice to see them hang around and have a good time.”
The Walsh County Public Health Office and the North Dakota Highway Patrol conducted a mock crash event at Grafton High School last Wednesday. The mock crash was an effort to reduce alcohol related fatalities in North Dakota.
The Highway Patrol reported that as of Sept. 14, there have been 109 fatalities in North Dakota for 2012 with 50 percent of them being a result of an alcohol related crash. Wednesday’s crash was designed to simulate an actual serious injury/fatality crash using students as actors.
“Leading up to the event we had students removed from classrooms every 15 minutes to represent the statistic that every 15 minutes a high school student dies in a vehicle accident,” Albrecht said.
Students and the community were alerted of the mock crash with sirens. The scene of the accident took place south of the high school with two vehicles, one being an SUV rolled over and another a four-door car.
“The mock event was very professionally done. The students were engaged and I believe received the message,” Albrecht said.
The potential consequences of underage drinking are many as highlighted by data gathered by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention which reports that 72.3 percent of underage drinkers had at least one drink of alcohol on one or more days during their life. It was reported that 19.9 percent had their first drink of alcohol before age 13. Underage customers consumed 29.8 percent of all alcohol sold in North Dakota, totaling $69 million in sales. In 2009, there were an estimated nine traffic fatalities and 205 nonfatal traffic injuries. The harm from underage drinking per youth in North Dakota averages $1,018.
After the mock car crash, which was serviced by Valley Ambulance, Grafton Volunteer Fire Department, Grafton Police Department, Walsh County Sheriff’s Department, the highway patrol, Piles of Smiles makeup artist and the Walsh County Highway District. The Sanford LifeFlight helicopter was also scheduled to participate in the mock event, but was called into duty at the last minute and was not able to attend.
Students in grades seven through 12 witnessed the scene in the south parking lot, complete with field sobriety tests, the jaws of life, CPR and other resuscitation measures. Student actors were made up to appear they had been in an accident. The fatalities in the accident were bagged and put into the ambulance. According to Albrecht, the whole scene was to represent just what happens at the scene of a multi-vehicle accident where there are fatalities and other injuries.
Once the actors were hauled away by ambulance and the highway patrol, the students were taken inside the high school and assembled in the gym for more presentations.
According to Albrecht, one of the presentations was a recorded event of Karen Sand being videotaped after being told by the authorities that her daughter Kat had been killed in the accident.
“Karen did a really good job showing the pain of a parent getting the news that one of their children had been killed in a vehicle accident,” he said. “The students were enlightened as to the effects of underage drinking and the consequences. Everyone involved did an excellent job of getting the message across and I believe the students heard it.”