Mesquite Police launch ‘dramatic’ program to fight teen drunk driving

Simulated crash during "Every 15 Minutes" program in Alamagordo, Texas, Circa 2010 | Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, St. George News

MESQUITE, NEV. — Virgin Valley High School will be the scene of a fatal car crash, displayed in full view for hundreds of students, while one participant will be removed by a police officer every 15 minutes, replicating the youth’s death. The entire scene is a simulation, and part of a powerful, two-day program, “Every 15 Minutes,” designed to emphasize the dangers of drinking and driving.

During the month of February the Mesquite Police Department is running the nationally recognized “Every 15 Minutes” program at Virgin Valley High School in Mesquite, Nevada, an emotionally-charged event designed for high school juniors and seniors, officer Quinn Averett, spokesman for the Mesquite Police Department said in a statement.

The basis is to challenge them to think about drinking, driving, personal safety and the impact their decisions have on family, friends, their community and others.

“Every 15 Minutes” simulated crash demonstration at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Santa Barbara County, Calif., date not specified | Photo courtesy of Vandenberg Air Force Base, St. George News

“The program is very dramatic and emotional – and purposely so,” Averett said.

The Mesquite Police Department is spearheading the event, made possible through support from the Mesquite Fire and Rescue and Mesa View Hospital in Mesquite.

For more information contact school resource officer Justin Goodsell at 702-371- 3018. Donations can be made at the Mesquite Police Department, 695 Mayan Circle, which is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Alcohol remains the leading cause of death in people under 21, and 24 percent of drivers age 15-20 involved in motor vehicle crashes had been drinking, and 19 percent were considered impaired, according to a report released in January by the Insurance Information Institute. 

Teenagers are constantly reminded about the choices they make involving alcohol and how many others are affected by their decisions, and know the intellectual statistics. However, many teens continue to share the belief it will never happen to them.

The program involves both the school and the community, and entails a great deal planning and preparation that occurs months in advance of the actual presentation, and can take up to a year to prepare for the first program at any school.

A broad coalition of agencies are represented during the two-day event, including the police, fire department, paramedics, hospital, court, lawyers, judge, jail facilities, coroner/funeral home, students, parents and school administrators.

One student from a cross-section of the entire student body is chosen by the “grim reaper” and removed from the class every 15 minutes by a police officer, who first enters the class and reads a eulogy, written by the “dead” student to his parents.

“Every 15 Minutes” simulated crash demonstration at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colo., date not specified | Photo courtesy of Peterson Air Force Base, St. George News

Later in the day a simulated traffic crash is set up on school grounds, in full view of the students, a scene where actual rescue and emergency personnel tend to injured student victims as if it were an actual crash scene, according to information provided by the “Every 15 Minutes” program. 

The Jaws of Life is brought in for extrication, while a coroner handles fatalities and officers arrest and book the student drunk driver, and in some programs a helicopter lands to pick up a “critically injured” victim before transporting them to the hospital.

The injured students from the simulated crashes are then taken off-site to a temporary retreat, where they will spend the night, separated from friends and family while counselors and facilitators discuss the reality of impulsive decisions and risky behavior.

Designed to create an awareness among students that they are not invincible, the program helps open the emotional doors as they experience firsthand how their actions affect the lives of so many other people. 

The program has not been launched in any of the eight high schools in the Washington County School District, according to St. George Police Department officer Lona Trombley, who contacted the school resource officer program.

“I do not know of any programs like this that we have in our schools. If they were to start something our SROs would be supportive and participate but, at this time, it is not something that has been implemented in our school system,” Sgt. Albert Gilman, school resource program supervisor for Washington County, said.

 

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

 

 

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3 Comments

  • PatriotLiberal February 3, 2018 at 12:43 am

    They should do it here for texting and driving.

    • SilentThunder February 4, 2018 at 1:59 am

      They really should, it doesn’t matter how strict the drinking laws are here you still have to deal with the idiots on their phones while driving.

  • 12345 February 3, 2018 at 11:55 am

    LOL ! What a waste of time that was. like that’s going to make a teenager think about the danger of DUI

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