Winslow Township High School pairs with the Winslow Township fire, police and EMS departments to…

Winslow Township High School pairs with the Winslow Township fire, police and EMS departments to promote a safe prom night

As seniors head into prom, Winslow Township High School promotes safety to ensure they have the night of their dreams

Firemen take steps to cut an entrapped victim (Grace Kennedy) out of a car while paramedics assess another victim ejected from the other car (Jordan Harris), who is pronounced “dead” at the scene.

Police, fire department and emergency medical services are dispatched to a car accident. Two vehicles are involved with four victims, all teenagers. Two of the victims are trapped inside their vehicle. Another has been ejected from the other vehicle. The fourth is walking around, wobbling as a bottle of vodka rolls under his car.

This is not the first image that comes to mind for most when they think of prom night, but for emergency professionals, this scene is all too familiar.

Winslow Township High School, along with members of the Winslow Township Police Department, Winslow Township Fire Department, Cooper University Hospital and Virtua Hospital put on a presentation for students who were attending prom to try to ensure their nights end just the way they planned.

The morning was split into two parts: a presentation in the auditorium by Dave Groves, RN, MSN, CCRN at Cooper University Hospital, and a demonstration of how first responders assess and react to car accidents.

“It’s not so much drugs and alcohol anymore,” Groves said during his presentation, “it’s distraction. You guys are children of the electronic age, and unfortunately the electronic age is going to kill a whole lot of you because you don’t know when to put those things down.”

Groves focused on the hospital perspective. He described the increase in incidents hospitals see during prom season and his experience with these victims.

“We want [prom] to be memorable for good reasons,” Groves said. “We don’t want it to be memorable because you were trapped in your car next to your dead boyfriend or girlfriend or friend.”

He then walked the students through a visual lecture of “The Anatomy of a Crash,” where he shows the damage that happens to a car and its drivers and passengers in the first second, broken down into tenths of a second. He showed images of the way the car can crumble and injuries that can happen to people involved.

Groves ended his presentation by urging kids to “make the call” — to call their parents if they find themselves in a situation that could become dangerous, such as they discover that their ride home is under the influence or if they themselves are unfit to drive.

“I can guarantee you, your folks would rather get that call from you at midnight than one from me at one or two, because mine’s not going to be good,” Groves said.

Ultimately, Groves urged the students that it is all about being responsible.

“Don’t let it all end tonight,” Groves said. “It happens, people. People don’t think it’s going to happen to them, that it only happens to the other guy. But you have to remember this; to everybody else out there, you are the other guy. It can happen to you.”

After Grove’s presentation concluded, the kids filed outside. Two cars were crashed into each other. There was a body on the ground, not moving. There were a couple of people who looked stuck in the car.

Winslow Township High School paired with the police, fire, and EMS departments from Winslow Township and student actors from the drama club to demonstrate what happens on the outside of a car accident. The first responders treated the scene as if it were a real incident: police arrived on scene, assessed the situation and conducted a sobriety test on the driver of the vehicle who was able to walk around (played by Kirk Slingluff). The fire department was next on scene, and firemen immediately began to secure the cars before cutting off the doors to safely extricate the patients who were trapped inside (played by Grace Kennedy and Savannah Page). Ground paramedics from Virtua Health System also arrived and examined each of the patients, declaring one dead on the scene (played by Jordan Harris). One patient (Page) was assessed to be so bad that she required an airlift on a medevac, Cooper I from Cooper Health System.

The visual struck the chord that the school was hoping for.

Student Kayla Quarles was surprised at how bad these accidents could get.

“I learned just to be careful and watch my surroundings and make sure that everyone that is in the car with me and myself are safe to and from prom,” Quarles said.

Megan Miller and Alana Shockley were impressed with the presentation and glad to have seen it. They both know people who have driven under the influence before, and were concerned for their friends who would be heading to Wildwood that night.

“Hopefully they learn from this,” Miller said. “I didn’t realize how much it can [impact you] and all they have to do and all the lives it can change.”

Both Miller and Shockley agreed: “I’m definitely going to be driving safe.”

Seniors Jamil Adams and Rashawn Lewis also took this presentation seriously, calling it “educational” and “realistic.”

“They gave you a visual representation of the entire thing they can do,” Adams said.

Both boys have bright futures and want to ensure they stay on the path to fulfilling them. Adams was awarded a full scholarship to Syracuse for track and Lewis is the class president and salutatorian.

“[I learned that] it definitely happens; it’s nothing to mess around with,” Lewis said.

“Makes you definitely […] more observant of what you’re doing and what’s around,” Adams said. “It makes you more careful of your friends. You don’t want your friends drinking and then going to drive, so it makes you more careful.”

“Don’t take life for granted,” Lewis said. “We make sure everybody’s safe.”

This presentation was not the first that the school has hosted, but it was the biggest so far.

“We’re very heavily involved with the schools at different age groups,” Fire Chief Marc Rigberg said.

They have put on many different types of demonstrations, depending on the age groups, and it seems to have impacted the safety of the kids, according to Rigberg.

“I do believe a lot of them do think about a lot of these types of activities,” Rigberg said. “A lot of the accidents we go to involving children are more probably distracted driving now with the cell phones and stuff like that as opposed to alcohol- or narcotics-related stuff.”

Rigberg was not discouraged by the appearance the students may not have been paying attention.

“They catch on more than you think,” Rigberg said. “You may see the deer in the headlight look or the non-focused look, but [the kids] ask some of the neatest questions.”

The students filed back into the building, buzzing with excitement about their imminent early dismissal. Within hours, they would be getting ready for prom. However, they now were equipped with the knowledge to not only get there and have a great time, but to make it home safely.