Risky activities and the consequences of your actions were put in the spotlight on New London High School stage last Thursday, April 28. It was perfect timing, as prom was taking place April 30. A late model Pontiac Sunbird sat on the high school stage, the backdrop for the P.A.R.T.Y. Program presented by area emergency professionals and students.
P.A.R.T.Y. stands for Prevent Alcohol and Risk Related Trauma in Youth. Sponsored by ThedaClark Hospital, the program was dramatic and to the point, illustrating the effects of drinking and driving, including injury, the loss of life, arrest and more.
Students listened and watched as their peers role-played a drinking game and soon became intoxicated. A fight broke out and the party split up, with many teens driving drunk. A crash resulted when, on top of drinking, the driver was texting on a cell phone. As professionals started to arrive on the scene, a narrator pointed out to the student audience that the police took care of traffic control and securing the scene. Firefighters were cutting an injured person out of the car with the Jaws of Life, while a young woman lay a distance from the car, dead. The driver was her older sister, who survived the crash. A friend was trapped in the back seat, but was alive.
The driver of the Sunbird was given a field sobriety test by a New London Police Officer. New London volunteer fire fighters performed the extrication process, which students learned could take some time. Once the Jaws of Life cut through two doors and removed the top of the car, a local EMS team stepped in to stabilize the injured youth. This meant taking vitals, securing the neck, and asking a series of questions to assure the patient was cared for properly. A body board was used to transport the victim from the vehicle to a stretcher, and off to a waiting helicopter. The patient had not been wearing a seat belt. He had a head and neck injury, rib fractures, and a broken leg.
Students then heard from a ThedaStar flight nurse, who explained the flight procedures the flight team goes through each time they are called to a scene. They are the go-between medical team that sometimes save lives prior to delivering patients to a trauma team at the hospital.
In the scene that followed, a neurosurgeon informed a parent of the young man that his son had bruising on the brain and may have to drill a hole in his skull at some point to reduce pressure, if medication didn’t bring it down. He was informed that it will take 9 – 12 months to know the true severity of his son’s brain damage.
The narrator informed the students that this is just the beginning of the road to recovery for this patient, and reminded them that the driver will probably be facing jail time for the death of her younger sister. She also reminded them of the life or death consequences of wearing seatbelts, as the younger sister was not wear a seatbelt and was thrown from the car to her death.
The Broehm brothers of Brillion were introduced next, having lived through a car/train crash. One brother had both legs broken, another had a severe brain injury and another brother was not badly hurt. A fourth brother died in the crash. They talked about how hard the ordeal had been and even included their friend in the talk. He shared how hard it was to go to the hospital and see how badly they were hurt. Plus all of the recuperation time. He said to the students, “Don’t think it can’t happen to you, because I always said that and it did happen. No one is bullet proof.”
A voice of a coroner was used to tell the students about how families are affected by accidents like this. As the coroner and a police officer picked up the body of the younger sister and placed her in a body bag, he said he hoped he would never have to meet formally again.
A final scenario was played out called “Moonlight Ride” where a young teen pleads with her parents to go to a party with her boyfriend. They finally give in and once the teens get to the party, there is drinking and smoking going on. She declines, but her boyfriend does not. On the return trip home, she knows she shouldn’t be riding in the car with her boyfriend, who is drunk. She attempts to make him stop, but he drives too fast and they crash into another car. Her boyfriend dies at the scene. Before she dies, she asks the nurse about the people in the other car and they have died too. It was her parents.
Sad things happen in life, but none as sad as when teens make the wrong choice and die young. The P.A.R.T.Y. program drove this point home in many ways and was a timely message for the student body.