Tenth through 12th-grade students at Chalmette High School and 8th-grade students at St. Bernard Middle School, the host site, recently participated in “Consequence of Impact”, a mock crash involving impaired driving.
Chalmette High School students acted out a fatal crash scenario in front of their peers, allowing the students to see first-hand how drinking, driving, and poor decisions affect everyone involved. Actors included Devin Cruice, Ronnie Prestenback, Scotty Thornton, and Jaida Alphonso.
The mock crash promoted open and trusting relationships between parents and teens. Parents of the students also participated by playing parts in the scenario.
Bridget Gardner, a Program Coordinator at the Injury Prevention Center at University Medical Center, said her team hosts approximately 26 mock crash events per year statewide. She says the best measure of success is to actually view the student body, witnessing their behavior and reactions during the mock crash simulation.
“The CHS and St. Bernard Middle students were captive, attentive, quiet and showed great interest in the actions of the first responders and student/parent actors,” she said. “I think our ultimate goal to educate our youth to make better decisions and establish healthier habits behind the wheel was accomplished.”
Charles Cassar, Coordinator of Cultural Arts and Safe Schools for St. Bernard Parish School District, said the purpose of the simulation was to emphasize the importance of good decision making and the horrific consequences of driving under the influence. The event also highlighted the importance of wearing a seat belt and how deadly it can be to text and drive.
“As we look out into the audience, we see the immense potential of all of our young people,” Cassar said. “All too often, that potential can be wasted because of one poor decision. Today, we hoped to remind our students of the gravity of their choices.”
Cassar thanked Louisiana State Police, University Medical Center, and the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission for partnering with the St. Bernard Parish School District to host the event. He also thanked the other agencies and community organization who participated including St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office, St. Bernard Parish Fire Department, St. Bernard Parish Coroner’s Office, Louisiana State Police, Acadian Ambulance, University Medical Center’s Level 1 Trauma Center, New Orleans EMS, the St. Bernard and Charbonnet Funeral Homes, Ashley Merritt for makeup, and DND Towing.
“The support of the community is critical to our efforts in educating and protecting our students,” Cassar said. “This event, while not a pleasant experience, was also a reality check for all of those involved and that our message was well received.”