Event offers lesson in consequences
Last week, area emergency personnel came together to show Cassville High School students some of the consequences of poor decisions. Students watched quietly as a docudrama unfolded on the grassy lawn south of the high school on Friday afternoon.
"I think this is a good thing for these kids," said Jason Nape, of Cox EMS. Nape, whose son is a freshman at Cassville High School, served as the senior emergency medical technician during the mock crash.
"The fact is that these kids don't get to be on the front lines of these accidents and see the impact like we do," said Nape. "They need to know what can happen as a result of teenage drinking."
The event began shortly after CHS students filed outside to find five of their classmates, Benjamin Crawford, Brad Lueckenhoff, Mikhaila Burbridge, Gage Holloway and Danielle Pianalto, in and around an upside down automobile, which served as the focal point of the docudrama.
Students were encouraged to examine their classmates, the wrecked vehicle and the empty beer cans and liquor bottles cluttering the scene. Reactions varied from shock to amusement.
The docudrama began when Holloway, the driver of the vehicle, and Burbridge, a passenger, began moving around the scene checking on their friends.
Cassville High School nurse Elaine Boles and Cassville officer Jennifer Luckey arrived at the mock crash and began evaluating the students' injuries. Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper John Lueckenhoff performed a sobriety check on Holloway before placing him under arrest and confiscating drug paraphernalia from his pockets.
Students watched emergency medical personnel remove Bradley Lueckenhoff and Crawford from the crashed vehicle and rush them from the crash. Pianalto was pronounced "dead" at the scene by Charlie McManus, Barry County deputy coroner, placed in a black body bag and loaded into a vehicle for transport to the funeral home.
At the conclusion of the docudrama, faculty members escorted the students to the high school gymnasium for a special assembly.
"If this program changed the life of just one person it was all worthwhile," said Bill Boles, who serves as the western region field supervisor for Cox EMS.
Boles asked students to raise their hands if they were willing to admit they do not wear seat belts. Around one-third of the students raised their hands.
"I have worked in EMS for over 20 years," said Boles. "I have seen these same scenes over and over again. When I get calls to these types of events I can see them unfold in my mind before I arrive.
"You guys will never understand that feeling until you arrive at a scene and the screams and cries are real," said Boles. "The biggest toughest football player in this assembly will be bawling his eyes out."
Boles noted that the students who participated in the mock crash would remove the makeup and prosthetics that created the illusion of injury.
"They will look exactly like they did before they took part in this event," said Boles. "Real injuries cannot be reversed."
Boles said many teens say that seat belts are inconvenient. The alternative to the "inconvenience" often involves being thrown from a vehicle, sustaining major injuries or death, said Boles.
"Seat belts are not an inconvenience," said Boles. "They are the law. You might be given a ticket for not wearing your seat belt, but the worse thing is what your friends and family could go through as a result of you not wearing your seat belt."
Boles also spoke briefly about the importance of wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle.
"I am here to tell you about choices," said Boles. "Each one of you are capable of making good choices. You are responsible for what you do with your lives. Alcohol, drugs and heavy machinery do not mix."
Jason Martin, a Cox trauma nurse clinician, also spoke during the assembly. Martin served as the makeup artist for the mock crash.
"We had 28 trauma patients in our facility last week," said Martin. "Twenty-two of the injuries could have been prevented."
Martin presented a slideshow of injuries that have been sustained in car crashes. The photos also showed several crashes that caused deaths.
"Please, please, please, wear your seat belt," said Martin. "Don't text and don't eat a salad while you are driving. Please, don't get careless and make bad choices."
Others who addressed the CHS student body during the assembly included: Trooper John Lueckenhoff; nurse Boles; and students Burbridge, Holloway and Bradley Lueckenhoff.
The docudrama event was sponsored by the Cassville High School SADD Chapter. Donna Allen, of Cox EMS, organized the event.
Ramey provided drinks and Geraldi's offered pizza, which were served to the participants prior to the event. Murphy donated the alcohol that was dumped at the scene, and Brice's Towing provided the crashed vehicle. Lowe's Auto Glass removed the glass from the car prior to the event.
Organizations that participated in the docudrama event included: the Cassville Police Department; the Cassville Fire Protection District; Cox EMS; the Missouri State Highway Patrol; Barry County E-911; and the Barry County Sheriff's Department.