It all started with a frantic phone call. The operator dispatches police and EMT crews to a sight of a gruesome alcohol-related accident. The worst part? These are teenagers, and there are fatalities! There is screaming, crying and a whole lot of blood. This horrific site however, is all pretend.
Mock crashes are a common part of high school prom seasons everywhere. They usually depict two wrecked cars staged with bloodied and broken student actors. The rest is treated like an actual crash scene. 911 is called and displayed for the audience (usually students), and the emergency crews come racing in. The drunk driver is taken into custody and given a field sobriety test. Walking wounded are interviewed and the injured are taken away in ambulances and MedFlight helicopters. As for the dead, families are notified and called to the scene. They scream, cry and watch their children taken away in a hearse. The drunk driver is taken away in a police cruiser, and the wreckage is left for clean up.
I am fortunate enough to have been president of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) at Zanesville High School this last year. I was able to portray the drunk driver. The mock crash was part of our "Prom Promise" which sought to get students to pledge not to drink and drive on prom night. We had to do this event for the junior and senior classes.
Perhaps the most memorable part of the mock crash was the arrest. I wanted to resist arrest somewhat. In the midst of my flailing around, I accidentally hit the officer and found myself on the pavement the next second.
That lady in the pink sweatshirt in the top right corner? Yeah, that's my mom in the audience, taking a video that would soon grace YouTube.
Sure, this was a fun and interesting experience for me but I also wanted to help make a change. The fire chief had said "If we stop one student from making a bad decision, it will all be worth it." There were no accidents from my school that night. Mission accomplished.
With prom season here, it is important for you high schoolers to stay safe! Take a tip from this video from the Broadway musical "Hairspray."
Mock crashes are a staple part of American high schools. Don't view it as a chance to get out of class. Imagine if you drove up and saw your friends dead or injured and someone you knew was entirely responsible. This has been a reality for too many people, and it is entirely preventable. This prom season please be safe. If not for yourself, for others.
To learn more, visit the SADD website.
Arrive alive, don't drink and drive.