Twenty-five Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School students participated in an “eye-opening” P.A.R.T.Y. (Prevent Alcohol and Risk-Related Trauma in Youth) program on Nov. 26.
The full-day course was put on by the South Cariboo P.A.R.T.Y. committee and facilitated by local coroner Laura Dewar.
The program for Grade 10 students is intended to teach them to recognize risk and make informed, smart choices about activities and behaviour, Dewar explains.
The morning session was held at the 100 Mile House Fire-Rescue hall and started with a 30-minute video about the consequences of drinking for teenagers – especially a life-changing alcohol-related motor vehicle incident (MVI) that could involve a severe injury, which affects the rest of the teen’s life, or death.
Local RCMP Const. Sebastian Lipsett talked to the teens about the horror of having to knock on parents’ door to tell them their child died in an MVI.
Karen Sinclair talked to the students from the point of view of surviving a drinking-driving MVI and how making a risky choice that completely changed her life in a split second.
Local fire chief Roger Hollander talked about the profound affect risky choices can have on highway rescue emergency workers when they arrive at a crash scene with young people involved, Dewar says.
She adds he talked about teens lying on the ground outside of a vehicle, being trapped inside a vehicle … the screaming.
“He walked the students through a scenario with him, and they were drawn right in to his presentation and his slides.”
After a lunch break, they went to the physiotherapy department at the hospital, Dewar says, adding they saw videos of people who had severe injuries from car crashes.
“They saw what it was like [for the victims to try] to come back and then realizing they have a ‘new normal’ and their lives could never go back to the way they were.”
She notes there were real “in-your-face, frank discussions” about what life after the crash in terms of being quadriplegic – needing help with suppositories and the like.
“The kids’ jaws just dropped when they heard this. It’s embarrassing and it’s all of the private things that are no longer private.”
Following that, the students were taken to the mock Emergency Room scenario during which a young person is brought in by paramedics, and Dr. Werner Schoeman, who explained all of the procedures to the students, and two nurses do their best to save the victim’s life.
Noting the students always relate and engage with the young victim and are often devastated when the patient dies, Dewar says the victims always die.
The coroner says she talked about what happens at the morgue – “about the parents having to go down and say good-bye in that room with the crying, screaming and fainting.”
“I tell them there is no going back because you can’t redo a day after you die….”
Dewar says it was a very impactful day and the next one is slated for Jan. 14, 2016.
Grade 10 student Shade Kure says he found the day interesting because he learned a lot of things he didn’t really know before.
He adds his eyes were also opened about what the possible outcomes could be in a drinking and driving MVI.
Kure says he has not been involved in risky behaviour because he knows if someone has been “drinking and they’re driving, I’m not getting in the vehicle.”
The young man adds he would advocate against risky behaviour, and if friends were going to do something that could be risky and possibly have serious consequences, he would tell them not to get involved.
“I would say ‘whoa buddy, don’t do that, come with me’ and try to get them out of there.”