Early last Thursday morning, the sound of sirens could be heard near the Lacombe Composite High School (LCHS).
Emergency services crews responded to a two-vehicle collision, but it was just a set-up — a mock demonstration of an impaired driving collision.
The staged scenario was part of Operation Safe Grad, a program that aims to show students, in particular Grade 12 students who will soon be graduating, the very real consequences of driving when impaired.
For the first time in Lacombe, the Lacombe Police Service, Lacombe Fire Department, Alberta Health Services, City of Lacombe, Popows Auto Wrecking and the Lacombe MADD Chapter partnered together to stage the scenario.
“The importance of presentations like Operation Safe Grad is that right now, impaired driving is one of the leading causes of death and injury to teenagers, particularly high school-aged students,” said Const. Travis Marcott of the Lacombe Police Service.
After hearing presentations in the gym, graduating students from LCHS, Central Alberta Christian High School and the Lacombe Outreach School filtered outside and came across the collision scene.
Two vehicles had collided at high speed. One of the drivers was assumed, and later charged for impaired driving. One of the passengers was immediately declared as deceased.
Soon the emergency services crews arrived on scene, responding to the scene as if they were actually responding to a very serious collision. Some of the passengers were freed from the wreckage, but one was left pinned in one of the vehicles.
For extraction, first off came the roof of the car and then out came the Jaws of Life.
The amount of sheer manpower and resources on scene required to deal with the aftermath of the collision was evident.
Marcott noted to the students after the mock scenario the response time of emergency services resources was much quicker than in a real scenario, due to the fact the fire department, EMS and police were stationed nearby and prepared to respond to the mock collision.
“We really are trying to drive home a message,” said Marcott. “We know they are going to go out and party. We know there is going to drinking involved, especially with grad.
“Either have a sober driver or call somebody to pick you up,” suggested Marcott to graduates who are partaking in celebrations over the next month.
“I know most kids don’t want to call their parents at three in the morning when they are drunk, but I’m sure their parents would much rather them call at 3 a.m. then have me knock at their door.”