Rescue teams drive home safety lesson

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Members of area rescue units, fire departments, ambulance personnel and law enforcement agencies assembled at Centre High School on a rainy Wednesday to participate in a Safe Driving-Mock DUI Consequences simulation.

JoAnn Knak, Marion County emergency preparedness director, coordinated the event designed to show Centre students the consequences of driving while impaired, and driving without seat belts.

This mock disaster featured a head-on collision between a car driven by a “drunk driver” and a second vehicle.

Centre students Kristin Mueller, Todd Stahlecker, Melissa Kaiser, Derek Belton and Nathan Brunner volunteered to be accident victims in order to dramatize the consequences of driving while impaired.

Darwin Markley of Marion provided the cars for the demonstration.

A helicopter was scheduled to participate with a fly-in, but the poor weather caused it to be cancelled.

Following the mock accident, the students assembled in the gymnasium to watch a film detailing the procedures which occur after medical personnel arrive on an accident scene.

They also heard testimonials by Joyce Dirks, whose daughter died in an automobile accident in which she failed to buckle her seat belt; Stacie Smith, whose good friend and maid of honor now lives in a wheelchair after an accident caused by a drunken driver; and Knak, who stressed that it’s not fair to expect a parent to bury his or her own child.

“If this makes just one kid stop before they drink and get behind the wheel, or let a friend that’s been drinking drive, it was well worth it,” Knak said.

Similar demonstrations were held earlier this spring in Peabody and Marion.

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