NATOMA — In Natoma on Friday, March 17, the Natoma SAFE (Seatbelts Are For Everyone) and FADD (Families Against Destructive Decisions), in conjunction with local and state agencies and businesses, hosted a “Mock Accident” and SAFE Day.
This was an educational event and the accident was fictional. Students, parents, and residents of Natoma were informed about the event prior to the day. The “Mock Accident” scenario was a distracted driver trying to use his phone to take a video while driving. None of the occupants were wearing seatbelts, plus one student was standing in the back of the pickup. They “hit” the electrical pole northeast of the Ag Building at the corner of 6th and Baum Street.
The day begin with a presentation by the Kansas DUI Impact Center for 7-12th grade students. Around 9 a.m. a pre-recorded 911 call from one of the students involved in the accident was heard by students. Students then went out to the “Mock Accident” scene. The mock page from Osborne County was heard over a speaker system followed by the arrival of emergency vehicles with lights on and sirens blaring.
The scene’s “casualties” included one student “deceased”, one student “ejected” out through the windshield and unresponsive, and two students with minor to severe injuries who were conscious and talking with rescuers.
The mother of the “deceased” student arrived acting quite distraught as she had heard the page. Trooper Tod tried to console her after giving the notification that her son had been ejected from the back of the pickup and had died from the wreck only weeks from his senior prom and high school graduation.
To get the other two students out, the rescue crew took the top of the pickup cab off and pried the door using the “Jaws of Life.” While the driver was being loaded into the ambulance, the mourning parent went to confront him and she had to be calmed and restrained by Trooper Tod.
The “deceased” student was loaded into a hearse and taken to the south entrance of the school building. After the accident, students had to proceed past the open body bag as they returned to the school building.
Trooper Tod Hileman gave a presentation on seatbelts, distracted driving, and the impact of poor decision making when behind the wheel of a vehicle. Then students then got the chance to ride in the “Convincer”, a KHP demonstration trailer that “riders” strap into an inclined seat with seatbelt that rolls down at 5 mph and jolts to a stop. Two SAFE members (Dylan Pruter and Erika George) wearing Crash Dummy costumes “Vince & Larry”, provided by the Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office, showed up and also rode the KHP Convincer and visited the Natoma Elementary classrooms to encourage seatbelt usage.
The day was very impactful and emotional for all involved. Emergency workers explained the difficulty of working an accident involving people and families that they know. SAFE Sponsor Jeremy Long said “even though everyone knew that the scene was only a mock accident, the realization of the effect an actual event like this would have on our community was really evident. Everyone knows that texting and driving is a problem. This mock hopefully helped students realize the real responsibility you take on when you get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Hopefully it makes them stop and think about texting and driving.”
Natoma SAFE was started in September 2016 by the Natoma FFA to promote seatbelt use & traffic safety. The FADD organization was started in 1988 primarily to host a safe after-prom event. It has grown to include events for all ages at the school such as Red Ribbon Week events and Bike Safety Program. The Mock Accident also reemphasized the impact from the Todd Becker Foundation presentation brought in to Natoma by the SADD chapter earlier in the school year.
A big THANK YOU to those volunteering their time and efforts for this event: The actors — Tyler Lund, Jennifer Lund, Austin Murphy, Grady Dickerson, and Taitem Zeigler; Natoma SADD; Don Snyder, Osborne County Emergency Manager; Keith Haberer, Russell County Emergency Manager; Natoma Fire Department; Waldo Fire Department; Lucas Fire & Rescue Department; Natoma EMS; Osborne EMS; Pohlman-Varner-Peeler Mortuary; Trooper Tod Hileman; Eagle Med; Osborne County Sheriff Department; Russell County Sheriff Department; USD 399; Shop on the Corner; A & D Towing; George Fencing; and Auction One Inc.