Monday, April 27, 2009

Residents may see ambulances, fire trucks and even a hearse at the Churchill County Fairgrounds Tuesday, but there is no reason to be alarmed, said De Vere Karlson, chief juvenile probation officer. The appearance of an emergency situation is a part of the national “Every 15 Minutes” event where students witness a mock car crash in an effort to fight drunk driving.“In the United States, statistically, unfortunately, every 15 minutes someone dies due to a drunk driver,” Karlson said.The event begins with a mock scene of a graphic car crash caused by a student driving drunk, Karlson said. Students from Churchill County High School will watch the scene beginning with the 911 call and ending with the removal of one or more bodies from the car.“It’s not real and you know it, but it’s the chance that it could happen,” said 18-year-old Meagan Winder, who helped plan the event.Afterwards the majority of students return to classes, but the 16 students playing out the scenario continue for the rest of the day, along with their parents Karlson said. Based on their roles, students go to the emergency room, the police station or mortuary. Karlson said it’s all filmed, so the entire student body can witness the various scenes at the mock funeral to be held during an assembly at CCHS on Wednesday morning. Before the funeral, however, the 16 students and their parents go to separate retreats to experience a mourning process, Karlson said.“We have kids break down and cry,” Karlson said. “Part of the retreat is that they write their parents a letter about how they died. It’s life-affecting for some kids.”Karlson said the experience is also dramatic for students who witness the scenes and videos because of how realistic they are. Karlson said planning began last September, and about 20 agencies are involved. She said, this year, a Hollywood make-up artist is even flying in to apply moulage simulating injuries.“We don’t make it so it’s gory, but it looks real enough so it gets the kids’ attention,” Karlson said.Karlson said DUIs drop every year they hold the event and they hope this year will have an even greater impact on students.“I hope it makes people realize that it could happen,” Winder said. “They shouldn’t throw their lives away over a drink.”

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