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.
And 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, like prom and graduation. This spring, Mayo Clinic Health System and other area organizations will hold “prom trauma” simulations at:
- Eau Claire North High School: 10 a.m. Thursday, April 26.
- Eau Claire Memorial High School: 9 a.m. Thursday, May 3.
- Eau Claire Regis High School: 1:15 p.m. Friday, May 4.
Following the simulation, speakers talk about what happens after a crash. A police officer discusses charges for the intoxicated driver. A health care provider talks about treatment patients would need and possible long-term health effects. A police 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 in Eau Claire sponsors the program and has worked with other area organizations to bring these simulations to schools for 15 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 take care of crash victims and their family and friends,” says Theresa Brunetto, nurse practitioner in the Trauma Center at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire. “But we want to prevent these devastating accidents. Research shows there is a halo effect after these simulations when behavior does change. We appreciate schools partnering with us and other community organizations to bring a safety message to young people.”
Mayo Clinic Health System consists of Mayo-owned clinics, hospitals and other health care facilities that serve the health care needs of people in 70 communities in Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The community-based providers, paired with the resources and expertise of Mayo Clinic, enable patients in the region to receive the highest-quality health care close to home.