EAU CLAIRE –– The scene is something out of every parent’s and friend’s worst nightmare.
Young people talk at a party after they have been drinking alcohol. Next comes the sound of squealing tires, breaking glass, crushing metal. The intoxicated driver stumbles from the vehicle, distraught at the sight of injured friends, pleading with rescuers who work feverishly over the limp bodies.
Then the unthinkable happens: A body bag is lifted into a hearse.
This simulated scene plays out annually at area high schools to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving. These trauma simulations are timed close to high-risk periods for drinking and driving, such as prom and graduation. This spring, area high schools are partnering with Mayo Clinic Health System, Mayo One, local law enforcement and other area organizations to hold prom trauma simulations at:
• Alma Center Lincoln High School: 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25
• Colfax High School: 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18
• Eau Claire Memorial High School: 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 26
• Eau Claire North High School: 10 a.m. on Friday, May 4
• Eleva Strum High School: 1 p.m. on Friday, April 27
• Menomonie High School: 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 3
• Osseo-Fairchild High School: 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 12
Following the simulation, speakers talk about what happens after a crash. A police officer discusses charges for the intoxicated driver. A health care provider speaks about treatment patients would need and possible long-term health effects. A hospital chaplain tells the audience how the family of the deceased is notified. A funeral director discusses how he helps a family plan a funeral.
Mayo Clinic Health System has partnered with other area organizations to bring these simulations to schools for 18 years. No auto fatalities of prom students because of alcohol use have occurred in the area during this time.
“As a Level II Trauma Center, we care for crash victims and their family and friends,” says Kim Strasburg, registered nurse and injury prevention coordinator at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire. “But, more importantly, we want to prevent these devastating traumas. Research shows these simulations do result in behavior change. We appreciate schools partnering with us and other community organizations to bring a safety message to young people.”