The football fields of Maclay School and Madison County High School, normally the stage for the Marauders or the Cowboys, have a different purpose in the spring. Instead of athletic contests, the fields are used to present two important trauma prevention events – Operation Prom Night and Operation Spring Break – which took place in March and April.
As students filed into bleachers, they laid eyes on a mangled vehicle surrounded by dozens of empty beer cans. A squeal, a sickening crunch and screams from student actors blared over the loud speakers to simulate a drunk driving car accident. Soon after, a caravan of law enforcement vehicles, ambulances and fire trucks streamed onto the field to act out the events that immediately follow a traumatic event such as a car collision. Finally, a Life Flight helicopter touched down in the center of the football field to rescue one of the simulated victims. Once the arrests were made and the victims carted away, the event closed with presentations by local law enforcement, community volunteers and staff from the Tallahassee Memorial Trauma Center.
For eight years now, the Trauma Center has presented these Operation events as part of its Pathways to Prevention program – a program designed for local schools to educate teens about the dangers of trauma-related accidents. This was the first year Maclay School hosted an event.
“For our hospital, motor vehicle crashes are the number one mechanism of injury for trauma patients between the ages of 12-18 years of age,” said Jo Roland, RN, BSN, Trauma Program Manager. “It is because of these local statistics that the Trauma Center has chosen to focus its injury prevention for this age demographic on the dangers of any distractive driving practice.”
These Operation events take a tremendous amount of coordination and team work between local law enforcement, emergency medical services and school administration, but the impact it has on students is immense.
“I think students can see the commitment that the Trauma Center, and other agencies, has on their well-being,” said Jo. “It opens doors for dialogue and cooperation with local safety initiatives from partners that really invest a lot of time in these kids.”
While Operation Spring Break and Operation Prom Night are simulations, the dangers of distracted or drunk driving are genuine and these events are an important opportunity to warn students about them.
For more information on the Pathways to Prevention program, visit TMH.ORG/Pathways.