By Mary O’KEEFE
This morning, in the 4400 block of Ramsdell Avenue there will be several safety personnel responding to a fatal car accident. Those involved will be bloody and broken, some badly injured, some do not survive.
The accident is staged, a scenario played out for Crescenta Valley High School juniors and seniors as part of the Every 15 Minutes program sponsored by California Highway Patrol and supported by the CVHS PTSA.
The program begins in the morning with the Grim Reaper walking through the classrooms taking one student, prearranged, every 15 minutes. Those students will then be lined up along Ramsdell Avenue in front of the staged accident scene.
“The assembly will start right after snack, about 10:20 [a.m.],” said Mike Bertram, associate principal at CVHS.
At the beginning of the assembly, administrators will make a 911 call over the public announcement system.
Students will then gather on Ramsdell, just north of the gym, and watch the scene as it unfolds. Emergency responders including fire, sheriff and CHP will be on site. The accident will include smashed vehicles and [fake] bloodied victims.
Although students know the accident is staged – make-up artists add to the reality of the car crash victims – seeing friends involved and in pain is still emotional.
Emergency responders approach the accident like they would a real incident. Sirens are used and the firefighters use the Jaws of Life to free trapped victims. Ambulances, also with sirens, approach the accident as CHP officers assess the situation. Finally the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office van pulls up to the scene.
“It will hopefully get the kids thinking about making good choices,” said CHP Officer Kevin Denmon. “Like not to drink and drive. [High school kids] are too young to drink anyway. But also not to get in a car with someone who has been drinking.”
On Friday students will view a video that examines what happened to the victims and the person who drove drunk and caused the accident. A mock memorial is also staged in the high school auditorium for the accident fatalities.
The program is presented at CVHS every two years. In years past, those who came upon the scene and did not realize it was a staged accident have contacted local authorities. The CV Sheriff’s Station personnel are aware of the program and will field any phone calls that come in from concerned residents.