As Chris Stevens, the host of the Every 15 Minutes program, addressed students at Lodi High School on Thursday morning, he explained the first images an officer would come across after arriving on the scene of a fatal accident.
“When I first saw the deceased, her head was positioned in the south and her heels were positioned to the north,” Stevens said.
The realistic simulation is meant to teach students about the impacts of drinking and driving. As Stevens explained, the beginning stages of the “Golden Hour,” — the timeframe in which successful emergency treatment can be administered to resuscitate traumatic injuries — he explains the services available to save a victim’s life.
As fire engines, police cars and ambulances arrived on the scene of a head-on collision, students in the audience silently watched.
In a simulation, firefighters used the jaws of life to remove the roof of a ravaged vehicle to reach student Jasmine Shukla, as she sat motionless inside the vehicle.
“I feel like I want to cry,” Callie Burton, the health and driver education teacher at Lodi High said. “I taught one of the students in that wreck, and it is terrifying to have to see this, it looks too real.”
The Every 15 Minutes program is sponsored by the California Highway Patrol and the California Office of Traffic Safety to inform students of the real and emotional consequences of drunken driving.
When the program started in the 1990s, it was named after the drunken driving fatalities that happened every 15 minutes in the U.S. Now that number has changed to one death every 53 minutes according to the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
According to the NTSA, almost 31 percent of people age 15 to 20 killed in accidents in 2015 had a been drinking. Teen drivers are responsible for 12 percent of all road-related deaths, yet only consist of less than 10 percent of the population as a whole, according to the Insurance Institute for Health and Safety.
The program alternates, happening at Lodi High one year and Tokay High the next, occurring before prom season. The program serves as a reminder to students not to drink and drive and not to get into the car of someone who is intoxicated.
For junior Cassandria Delatorre, watching this program invoked both a sense of fear and a dose of reality.
“It is so sad and scary to see this. Watching this makes me feel a little depressed,” Delatorre said.
As a parent, Burton said she would rather get a call from her child, admitting that they had too much to drink and requesting a ride, rather than receiving a call from California Highway Patrol officers, telling her that her child perished.
“As parents, we need to have an open line of communication with our children, so that they feel safe coming to us when they need us,” Burton said.
As junior Maryssa Garcia watched her fellow classmates, she couldn’t bear to think of the impact it would have on her parents, to hear that she had passed away in a drunken driving accident.
“I cannot even imagine how upset and devastated they would be, and I don’t want to,” Garcia said.
The second half of the program will take place today as attorneys address students and explain the legal consequences of driving under the influence.
The program will conclude with students and parents reading emotional letters about the consequences of drinking and driving and the tremendous impact the fatality will have on both the victim’s family and the driver’s family.