• Carmen Marie Fabio

Accident simulation teaches tough lesson


École secondaire du Chêne-Bleu students Sebastien Dufour (right) and Frédérique Bédard are interviewed by a Sûreté du Québec police officer in an exercise to illustrate to graduating students the potential life-changing ramifications of drinking and driving.

Multiple sirens screamed down Pincourt Boulevard the morning of June 10 as police, firefighters, emergency response personnel and an ambulance responded to a head-on collision between a red Honda Civic and a black Pontiac G6. The ‘victim’ lay prone on the ground in front of about 100 ‘witnesses’ in an accident simulation event held almost every year at a high school in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region designed to show graduating students the reality and repercussions from what could go wrong from driving while intoxicated.

“I found it was really well done,” said Secondary V student Nelly Chapdelaine of the event hosted at École secondaire du Chêne-Bleu in Pincourt. “The actors were all fellow students. For me, personally, I found it more touching because these are real people that we all know.” The simulation for the graduating class was the collaboration of the Ville de Pincourt fire department, Sûreté du Québec police, and La Coopérative des techniciens ambulanciers de la Montérégie (CETAM) ambulance technicians. Chêne-Bleu students portrayed a group of friends on the eve of graduation, heading out to celebrate before things went wrong.

Wearing microphones, the interaction between the young man portraying the intoxicated driver and police officers was broadcast to the roughly 100 students in attendance while the ‘dead body’ was loaded onto the ambulance. A narrator explained how the portrayed events would irrevocably affect the rest of the driver’s life. Besides being responsible for the death of another young adult, he would never be able to pursue certain careers as he would always have a criminal record.

Although he doesn’t consume alcohol himself, Secondary V student Anass Zaggaz said he felt the simulation was important to make students realize what can go wrong when drinking and driving are combined.

“I felt like the firefighter's words really hit a lot of people on how you can’t step back from some actions,” said Zaggaz. “You can't rewind. You have to live with what you have done and the consequences that come with it.”

Occupants of the other car in the scenario were injured and one needed to be extracted by the fire department using the ‘jaws of life.’

The students were later shown a short film inside the school which documented the struggles of some young victims in their recovery following a drunk-driving car crash. The gritty footage included a young woman struggling to relearn how to walk and a father breaking down in tears after spoon-feeding his quadriplegic son in his hospital bed.

“I’m sure it’ll help to change students’ minds who think they’re capable of driving after having a few drinks,” said Chapdelaine. “The way the police explained the consequences for the driver was very clear – it’s much worse than I thought.”

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