Lessons in life, and death, before prom

The sound of screeching tires and blaring horns cut through the misty haze warning of imminent rain on an otherwise peaceful day near the front entrance of Fairfield Warde High School around 9:30 a.m. Thursday, May 15. Voices of students in distress echoed off the building’s brick façade, and faculty and students lined the sidewalk to watch, as tarps were pulled off two wrecked cars spilling over with occupants crying out in distress in the grassy center circle. Confrontations ensued, emergency calls were made, and the air was filled with a cacophony of sirens as police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances swarmed the scene.

This was not a routine motor vehicle accident for Fairfield’s first responders, but rather the first of two demonstrations held every year for nearly a decade to vividly illustrate to the junior classes of both Fairfield Ludlowe and Warde high schools the hazards of driving distracted or under the influence before their proms that weekend.

Under the direction of guidance counselors Timothy Morris at Ludlowe and Stephanie Swist at Warde, student re-enactors rehearsed their roles for several weeks in advance of these mock crashes, preparing a performance as driver or passenger, bystander or patient. The counselors scheduled participating agencies and made arrangements for the vehicles to be brought, distressed to simulate the crash, and removed afterwards, while Parent Teacher Associations distributed materials and provided pizza for the students involved.

At Warde on Thursday and Ludlowe on Friday, guest speakers took the microphone prior to each demonstration to offer their first-hand knowledge of the hazards of driving under the influence, and the ongoing repercussions to countless lives. Next the audio of car conversation began to play through the speakers set up on the perimeter, the sounds of a crash reverberating across the parking lot, and the revealed accident played out before each assembled junior classes. Students watched silently as their peers called in the emergency, accused or attempted to help one another, and interacted with incoming Fairfield Police and firefighters, American Medical Response paramedics and EMTs, as they performed their duties at the simulated accident. One driver was arrested and taken away in handcuffs, passengers were extricated by fire personnel using hydraulic tools, patients were removed by long board and stretcher to awaiting ambulances that pulled away from the scene, and the last victim was placed in the back of a black van from Lesko Polke Funeral Home serving in place of the state medical examiner.

After hearing a few brief closing remarks the juniors filed quietly into their respective auditoriums, where administrators and participants in the mock crash spoke about what they’d seen and done. Fairfield Fire and Police, alongside AMR personnel, lined the aisle as silent reminders of the many resources brought together that morning to teach and protect the young residents.

Both junior proms went off the following night without event.

Firefighters and EMTs treat “victims” of a mock crash at Fairfield Warde High School, held before Junior Prom. Fairfield Fire Department photo.

Firefighters and EMTs treat “victims” of a mock crash at Fairfield Warde High School, held before Junior Prom. Fairfield Fire Department photo.

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