Just before the school year was out, Trail paramedics organized a P.A.R.T.Y. program event at JL Crowe Secondary School, with support from local fire and police, to remind students of the real-life ramifications of impaired and distracted driving.
“We staged a mock head-on motor vehicle accident in the school parking lot with police, fire and our paramedics rushing to the scene outside the high school just like a real emergency,” said paramedic Tara McKenzie.
About 15 emergency responders and several students from the school’s drama department participated in the re-enactment, effectively drawing the attention of the high school body. Through the lens of health care providers, students followed the journey of a trauma victim from occurrence of injury, through transport, treatment, rehabilitation and community reintegration. Health care professionals and community volunteers including physicians, nurses, paramedic, police, and trauma survivors shared first hand experiences and provided students with strategies for mitigating risk.
After the re-enactment, the students gathered in the school’s theatre where BCEHS Medical Director Dr. Nick Sparrow gave a presentation on some of the life-saving procedures that happen in the emergency room following trauma-related accidents. McKenzie then shared a story from her experience as a front-line paramedic responding to accidents involving young, distracted drivers.
“One local girl spent 18 weeks in hospital and had to learn how to do things like walk, talk, run and eat on her own again because of an accident involving distracted driving,” she said. “That story really hit home with the kids.”
The event organizers acknowledged the graphic and poignant aspects of the presentation encouraged all students to share their experiences and feelings with a friend, parent, counsellor or teacher, especially if they felt overwhelmed.
“It’s a powerful, and at times overwhelming, message for these students and it’s really important to recognize that,” McKenzie said. “We had a few kids in tears.”
Paramedics McKenzie, Desiree Profilli, Billie Padavell and David Blancher as well as Dr. Sparrow are committed to continuing to share this important message with young people.
“The best part was, in the end, students were coming up to us and asking us what the pre-requisites are to become a paramedic and what is involved as far as the training is concerned,” McKenzie said. “To know that we delivered a strong message and even sparked some interest in our career field was rewarding beyond belief.”
Since its inception in 1986, the P.A.R.T.Y. program message has been delivered to over one million youth in more than 100 countries around the world. In B.C., the P.A.R.T.Y. Program is supported by BCEHS and the Ambulance Paramedics of BC.