According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 28 people in the United States die each day from motor vehicle crashes that involved an alcohol-impaired driver. In response to this, Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center recently collaborated with Patrick Henry High School and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) by participating in the Every 15 Minutes program.
Coordinated by the CHP, the program works with local high schools, community members and hospitals to illustrate the impact of an alcohol-related crash with a two-day, in-depth simulation that takes place on and off the school’s campus. The goal of Every 15 Minutes is to challenge high school juniors and seniors to think about the decisions they make in regard to drinking, driving, personal safety and the impact their decisions have on those around them.
During the simulation, one student was removed from class every 15 minutes to illustrate a death caused by these accidents. Eventually, all juniors and seniors were removed from class to unknowingly watch a crash scene unravel on their campus. Students were able to see real firefighters, emergency medical responders, coroners and other professionals responding to the crash as if it were real.
“We hope that teens will think twice about driving under the influence because of this program,” says Mary Cruz, community relations program manager at Sharp Chula Vista. “The simulation serves as a reminder of the impact accidents such as these could have on friends and families.”
Sharp Chula Vista clinicians and staff were involved by coordinating the emergency room visit and aftermath of the car accident. Emergency medicine doctors also examined and treated each student as if both were actual patients. One student died in the simulation and another student was unable to walk due to a severed spine.
Chaplain Bogar Hernandez was also present to perform simulated conversations with parents about the death of their children and to provide counseling and support to participants. This scene was part of a video shown to an assembly at the end of the program to illustrate every event that occurred because of this crash.
Hernandez says this program is effective because it accurately presents a sad reality in today’s world.
“The natural order says that we are supposed to bury our parents and not otherwise. When a child dies, a part of the parents die with him or her, along with the hopes and dreams they had for this child,” say Hernandez. “The circumstances surrounding a drunk-driving fatality make the event even more dramatic and delicate. The best thing I believe I can do in cases like these is to speak the truth in love and be available to the families.”
To learn more about the Every 15 Minutes program, visit the California Highway Patrol website.
For the news media: To talk with Mary Cruz for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.