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A mock prom night car crash teaches Daniel Boone High School seniors about the dangers of drinking and driving after the prom. (Photos by Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press)
A mock prom night car crash teaches Daniel Boone High School seniors about the dangers of drinking and driving after the prom. (Photos by Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press)

Prom Promise event aims to curb underage drinking, accidents

Nov 25, 2014 at 6:45 PM

A worst-case scenario on display at Daniel Boone High School on Friday meant to show around 300 seniors the severity of one bad decision just before their senior prom and it culminated with the zipping of a body bag.

Members of the school’s emergency medical services class, six in all, acted out a situation where a motorcycle struck a vehicle filled with prom-attending students with a driver who had been drinking alcohol in a event called the Prom Promise, which will also take place at David Crockett High School.

Emergency service entities from around the county were on hand to help show what the proper response to such a wreck would entail, with Washington County-Johnson City EMS ambulances, crash trucks, Washington County Sheriff’s Office vehicles, a rescue vehicle and Mountain States Health Alliance’s Wings Air Rescue helicopter responding to the crash.

“Here you’ve got your drunk, who’s had a couple too many,” said Luke Story, who, with fellow organizer and EMS provider Brandon Archer, helped announce exactly what was going on to the crowd of students via a loudspeaker.

“The drunk” story was referring to was Daniel Boone High School senior Sam Stewart, who acted as though he had failed a field sobriety test under the instruction of a WCSO deputy. The realistic demonstration included everything from a 911 call made by the witness of a crash to the arrival of all emergency personnel to the final situation where bodies were taken to the funeral home.

Story said the goal of the show was to not sugarcoat anything and to show the real consequences of drinking and driving.

David Marriken, who played one of the victims who died in the wreck, said the display has an impact on his fellow seniors because of how realistic it was.

“Visualizations like this are the closest thing to the real thing,” Marriken said.

Many of the organizations and people involved have seen the real thing and are trying to make sure students don’t get put through a situation like that. Carol Jones, a registered nurse and trauma program manager with MSHA, said she’s seen serious situations like the one presented to the students too many times to count and really hopes this will help cut down on the number of teens killed in alcohol-related accidents.

Though Prom Promise’s focus was on the ill effects of alcohol, Jones said a similar situation occurs with any kind of distracted driving that could happen with a car full of energetic students on their way to or from a prom. Regardless of the cause, Jones says the response showed by the collection of emergency services at the fake wreck is well representative of how entire communities come together in handling accidents.

“This is when your whole region comes together,” Jones said, and it doesn’t matter if you work for MSHA or someone else, the goal is get the victims the best care possible.

Archer said his goal with the wreck was to try to save lives and it would be worth it even if he only accomplished stopping a single student from drinking and driving, something seconded by Story.

Going into her senior prom, Amy Keith showed off her recently touched-up fingernails and appreciated the realistic showing of what could happen if someone were to drink and drive.

“This is more realistic than reading some kind of warning on a piece of paper,” Keith said.

After thanks were given to all involved with putting on the event, Maj. Brad Gerfin, from Washington County-Johnson City EMS, addressed the students to show his support of the fun they might have during this time of their lives, but asked them to do it safely.

“I plead with you, have fun your senior year, but do it without alcohol,” Gerfin said.

Follow Tony Casey on Twitter @TonyCaseyJCP. Like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tonycaseyjournalist.