Last week, the students of Hamburg High School witnessed what can happen when drivers take their focus off the road.
On Thursday, April 20, Hamburg Fire and Rescue, ProMed Ambulance Service, Hamburg Police Department, Ashley County Sheriff’s Deputies, Arkansas State Police Troop F, Air Evacuation team members, the Ashley County Office of Emergency Management, and Jones-Hartshorn Funeral Home participated in the annual Prom Skit/Mock Multiple Vehicle Accident at Hamburg High School.
Penny Mashburn of the Hamburg School District coordinates this annual event with the first responders. The first responders, students, school faculty, and representatives from various community organizations in the area come together each year to perform the skit in the hope that it will save lives.
By showing all possibilities to the students, including worst case scenarios such as this, they hope the student body will make informed and intelligent decisions not just on prom night, but every time they get behind the steering wheel of a vehicle.
The mock wreck skit is designed to educate the students by showing them firsthand what the scene of an accident looks like when first responders arrive at a wreck.
Each year, several high school students volunteer to take part in the skit, playing the roles of the victims, with one agreeing to play the part of a student that has lost their life as a result of the mock wreck.
To complete the skit, the volunteer students are made up to look like they have injuries sustained in a wreck.
They are then positioned in either of the two vehicles used in the skit, which takes place in the field in between the high school and the middle school alongside Lion Drive.
Levi Gray Wrecking Yard donates the vehicles used. The vehicles selected have been in previous collisions so that the damage to their bodies helps make the mock wreck scenario more realistic.
The vehicles are then covered up with tarps and cloths until the other students arrive to watch the skit.
Once the covering has been removed, the skit begins. The scene is arranged to show that two vehicle have collided head on. The participants follow directions to behave just as a victim in an actual crash might, complete with calls for help and cries of pain.
The students act as though they are trapped in the smashed-up vehicles, and cannot exit on their own.
The first responders that participate aren’t already waiting at the high school when the skit begins. Instead, they arrive at the scene a few minutes later with their lights on and sirens blaring.
Upon arrival, each of the separate groups of responders descended on the mock wreck scene much as they would if it were a real vehicle crash.
The students were informed of the time that it would take for first responders to arrive on the scene of a wreck varies.
The response time is determined by several factors, including at what point the dispatcher learns of the accident from victims or passers-by, as well as the time it takes for the rescuers to make it to the scene in their emergency vehicles.
During the skit, the first responders must get the doors of the vehicles open and free the students trapped within, while a state trooper and a student actor demonstrate the process of a field sobriety test.
The student playing the deceased victim is treated as such, and lies motionless on the ground as the other victims are tended to.
As the first responders work the scene on the ground, more support arrives by air as the helicopter used for medical evacuation lands in the field behind the crowd of students watching the skit.
The first responders tended to the wounds of the victims that are pulled from the smashed up vehicles before they are placed in the waiting ambulance.
Another of the victims is placed on a gurney and rushed past the crowd of students before being loaded into the helicopter and flown away.
Once the other victims had been removed from the scene, the student playing the deceased victim of the crash was the focus once again.
At that time, the first responders gathered around the student while she lay still on the ground. They kneeled down next to her and bowed their heads.
The song “The Dance” by Garth Brooks was played as the first responders were gathered around the mock victim.
The lyrics of the song contain the words, “for a moment all the world was right but how could I have known that you’d ever say goodbye.”
The morticians from the Jones-Hartshorn Funeral Home then brought their gurney over to the student, and after she was placed on it, her body was covered with the blue velvet cloth one might see at a graveside service.
An individual came to the student’s side to mourn her before the morticians removed her from the scene, which drove home the message of the permanence of death, and the loss felt by those left behind.
According to information on a National Highway Traffic safety Administration report on vehicle crashes from the Department of Public Safety website dps.arkansas.gov, during the five year period from 2012-2017, distracted driving resulted in the deaths of 20,000 people.
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