Gory demo teaches teen about safety

Posted: Thursday, May 04, 2000

Two wrecked vehicles and eight bloody teens will transform the parking lot at the north end of Juneau-Douglas High School into a mock accident scene early Friday.

``We call it an `auto extrication demonstration,''' said Lt. Paul Smith of the Auke Bay District of Capital City Fire & Rescue. Smith is in charge of the event, a mandatory 35-minute assembly period for the 400 members of the JDHS senior class.

The reason for the 9:30 a.m. demonstration, requested by the school administration, is that Friday is the day before senior prom, Smith said.

Over prom weekend, ``The chances of seniors being out on the road are increased, and drinking may happen,'' Smith said. ``So we give them a little visual reminder.''

The victims -- high school students -- will dress for the occasion in clothing donated by St. Vincent de Paul, so it can be cut from their bodies as in a genuine emergency triage situation, Smith said. (They'll wear shorts and T-shirts beneath.) Using a technique called moulage, a firefighter will apply ghastly theatrical molds of wounds ahead of time.

``They will have everything from minor wounds to broken bones to death,'' Smith said, ``just to send this point home. We'll pull them out of the cars, on body boards, bloody and looking like they are really hurt. We'll throw a blanket over a couple of them, to simulate DOA.''

``We're saying to the seniors: `Remember, there are consequences for your actions,''' said firefighter Rick Duncan, who is helping to coordinate the event.

Fifteen emergency medical technicians will participate, with fire trucks and ambulances with flashing lights in attendance. The assembly will proceed rain or shine, Smith said, because life and rescues proceed rain or shine.

Smith had no memory of recent prom night auto fatalities in Juneau.

However, the National Highway Transportation Safety Association says that in 1997, 16,189 Americans were killed in alcohol-related crashes -- accounting for nearly half of all U.S. traffic fatalities. An additional 327,000 Americans were injured in such crashes. NHTSA estimates that 2,222 youths ages 16-20 died in alcohol-related accidents in 1994.

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