Tis’ the Season

THIS IS A DRILL! This is not an actual event. Evans Center Firefighters "responded" to a Pre-Prom Season DWI Drill that demonstrated the devastating effects of drinking and driving to juniors and seniors at the Lake Shore High School. Photo by Tiger Schmittendorf

THIS IS A DRILL! This is not an actual event. Evans Center Firefighters "responded" to a Pre-Prom Season Stop-DWI Drill that demonstrated the devastating effects of drinking and driving to juniors and seniors at the Lake Shore High School. Photo by Tiger Schmittendorf

Despite the fact that as I’m writing this it feels far more like winter than spring in Buffalo, it’s not those seasons I’m talking about in this story.

Evans Center, my volunteer fire company, planned and supported a Pre-Prom Season Stop-DWI drill for our Juniors and Seniors at the Lake Shore Central Senior High School Friday morning. Coordinated by our Asst. Chief Tom Szczepaniak, Principal Chris Walsh and the Town of Evans Police Department’s Chief Ernie Masullo, Capt. Chuck Danzi and Patrolman Ralph Maslach — the assembly and demonstration stressed the devastating effects of making poor decisions relating to drinking and driving.

Not much unlike what is done at schools across the country at this time of the year, the Lake Shore team put together a comprehensive program that really hit home with these at-risk young adults. And, when I say “at-risk” I mean that, statisticly, they are at great risk of being involved in an alcohol-related accident before they graduate from high school or make it to their freshman semester in college.

The upperclassmen first participated in an assembly presentation that included a drinking party skit performed by fellow students. After being broken up by the local police, the party continued, followed by a mock fatal DWI accident on school property with students acting as the injured, arrested and dead parties. Evans Police, Evans Center Firefighters and a Mercy Flight of Western New York helicopter responded to the incident.

One student was D.O.A. and the other seriously injured, requiring extrication and transport to the trauma center by helicopter; while the teenage driver was put through a full set of field sobriety tests, arrested and hand-cuffed in front of his peers. The student “killed” in the crash layed motionless under a sheet for almost a half-hour, in plain sight of the other students, before being bagged and loaded into the coroner’s van.

The presentation concluded with a very realistic funeral ceremony performed by John Latimore of Latimore-Schiavone Funeral Home and attended by fellow students. The entire presentation recieved wide-spread news coverage on the local ABC-TV affilliate and Time-Warner Cable’s YNN News Network.

My son Alex will graduate from Lake Shore in June and will attend the St. Bonaventure University School of Journalism in the fall. I asked him what he thought of the drill.

His immediate response was limited to two words: “It worked.”

“If anything, it was too realistic. Some kids actually got sick to their stomachs. You got the message across, loud and clear,” he added.

Those words are music to a father’s ears as today we celebrate Mother’s Day in the hopes that every mother’s child will survive this prom and graduation season by exercising good judgement every time they get behind the wheel or in the passenger seat. I encourage you to do whatever it takes to prevent such a tragedy from visiting your community.

Happy Mother’s Day to my Laurie and all other Moms so deserving of the title.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

THIS IS A DRILL! This is not an actual event.

Participants are student actors and real first responders. These photos were taken at the Pre-Prom DWI Drill conducted by the Evans Center Volunteer Fire Company and Town of Evans Police Department in cooperation with the Lake Shore Central School District on Friday-May 7, 2010.

All Photos ©2010www.tigerschmittendorf.com