Students learn of drunk driving danger

BLACKFOOT — Some residents living around Mountain View Middle School in Blackfoot became concerned when they saw Life Flight, fire trucks and ambulances converge on the school grounds Friday afternoon. However; they were relieved to hear that all the activity was part of a Red Ribbon Week demonstration at the school. Red Ribbon Week is the largest drug and alcohol prevention campaign in the country celebrated in nearly every middle school and high school in the country.
Blackfoot Police Officer Greg Austin, the school's resource and alcohol ordinance officer, said this was a staged emergency situation, an effort to show students what can happen when someone chooses to drink and drive.
Austin has been active in Red Ribbon Week on the high school level in the past, where a more intense staged wreck is presented to those students.
"On the high school level, we show the whole impact of a drunk driving accident, in real time, complete with zipping up deceased crash victims into a body bag and turning them over to a mortician. We purposely do this close to graduation time," Austin said.
"Although it was all an act, playing out the scene made a hard impact on the kids; even the toughest football players had tears rolling down their cheeks when they saw the bodies of their friends being carried away," Austin said.
While the middle school presentation was scaled down to be more age-appropriate, Austin said, it still seemed to have a strong impact on the students. High school drama students played the victims as emergency workers demonstrated how they'd have to be cut out of car in the event of a real accident.
"Middle school kids don't drive, so this presentation was geared more toward what could happen if a friend or family member got behind the wheel drunk," Austin explained. "This is the first time we've done this at the middle school and I wasn't sure how the kids would react, but they asked some really good questions."
Austin said the students also watched a video that he created with actors in 2005 showing a scene in a hospital where an accident victim dies and the family is told the news. They are also shown a funeral, and a courtroom where a drunk driver is sentenced to prison.
"Hopefully these kids realize how one bad decision [to drink and drive] impacts many lives."
Local businesses Lee's Service and Towing, CAL Ranch and Hawker Funeral Home also assisted with the Red Ribbon Week demonstration.