Talon News - Good Local News

By Debbie Israel
TALON 

EVERY 15 MINUTES

Someone Dies!

 

March 24, 2017

Each year the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management takes their program, Every 15 Minutes, to a local high school, in the hopes of driving down the numbers of crashes involving young people in our county.

Statistics tell a horrible story: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA), in 2013, 10,076 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in the United States. That number was down slightly from 2012, when there were 10,336. All those deaths were in crashes when a driver had a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher.

In New Mexico, the number has gone down from 136 in 2006 to 98 in 2015. Ninety-eight is still too many human lives to lose because of drinking and driving!

NHTSA also says that "Every day, 28 people in the United States die in an alcohol-related vehicle crash...the chance of being in an alcohol-impaired crash is still one in three over the course of a lifetime. These deaths and damages contribute to a cost of $52B per year."

The Office of Emergency Management takes this information seriously! This year the program was at Bloomfield High School on March 16.

The students involved in the program work with the Office of Emergency Management, and decide what their scenario will look like. From that information, a re-enactment is worked out ... a very realistic re-enactment

including police, fire departments, ambulance, the hospital helicopter, and everyone else that would be involved in a real crash of this type. "The program begins with a recorded 9-1-1 call and a mock accident scene," said Michelle Truby-Tillen of the OEM.

The students at BHS chose their scenario to include a drunk driver, a distracted driver (texting and driving), and a pedestrian who got caught up in the drama. One BHS student said "I volunteered to help because I think everyone at the school knows me and it might have a bigger impact on them." He played a pretty convincing "dead guy."

"The student body watched and listened as Bloomfield Fire Department, along with San Juan County Fire Volunteers and San Juan Regional Emergency Services paramedics removed injured occupants and treated injuries. San Juan Regional AirCare helicopter landed and transported a critically injured student to the hospital. A San Juan County Sheriff Deputy preformed field sobriety testing on the driver while Bloomfield Police and SJC Sheriff Deputies marked the scene for investigation. Sheriff's Office Sgt. Terry McCoy addressed the crowd with words of warning as Brewer, Lee and Larkin Funeral Home solemnly loaded the deceased pedestrian victim into a black hearse.

During the school day, the Grim Reaper visits classes and takes a student away every 15 minutes, another death to the community. "An announcement over the school intercom advises the student body that the students pulled from class had been killed in a DWI accident," according to Truby-Tillen. Those students were taken to McGee Park where a mock disaster shelter was set up. They participate in activities related to DUI, distracted driving, drug and alcohol awareness and cyber safety, continuing throughout the evening.

People driving by the scene of the re-enactment at the schools often mistake the wreck for a real one because it is so realistic. Consequently calls are made to the emergency dispatch number, who have been alerted that they may be receiving those calls

The second day of the program is a memorial service for all those who were lost during the previous day. Law enforcement officers speak, parents speak about their child who they have lost. Others in the community who have been touched by alcohol related crashes also tell their stories. It's all very emotional, and aims to help young drivers make good decisions.

"If we save even one life, it was worth it" San Juan County Every 15 Minutes Coordinator Michele Truby-Tillen said.

 

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