The Ouray County Emergency Medical Services, in conjunction with the Voyager Youth Program, will enact a mock fatal car accident at the County Fairgrounds for the benefit of the students. The title of the event, “Operation Sober Prom,” says it all.
“It gives the students an opportunity to see that people do get hurt and die,” County EMS Training Officer Steve Lance said. “It’s not like Hollywood where they crash and walk away.”
More than 200 students in grades 8-12 will get a first-hand look at how calamitous a multiple-injury accident, accompanied by a fatality, can be, especially when it involves students who drink and drive on prom night, which is slated for April 28 in Ouray.
The Ouray Police Department, the Ridgway Marshal’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office, OCEMS, both Ridgway and Ouray volunteer fire departments and a CareFlight helicopter will be on hand for the dramatization.
The storyline, supplied by EMS Chief Medic Norm Rooker and under the supervision of Sheriff Dominic “Junior” Mattivi, depicts four students on their way to prom in Ouray after having dinner and a few drinks while setting up for an after-prom party.
It’s at mile marker 97, also known as Peck’s Corner and within the Ridgway Fire District, on Hwy. 550 where the students are involved in a head-on collision with a car headed to Montrose. All passengers are wearing seatbelts except for a student in the rear seat who is thrown from the vehicle on impact.
The front seat passenger in the students’ car is trapped, with a possible broken leg, and the others have minor injuries.
In the northbound vehicle, the driver is also trapped, sustaining a broken leg and head injuries; the passenger, a small child, is fatally injured.
An injured passenger in the students’ vehicle calls 911 and notifies the Sheriff’s Office. The page goes out and the training exercise begins.
“I think it’s a significant exercise,” Lance said. “The kids see that we’re serious and it’s a reminder of how dangerous this is. They see fire, EMS and law enforcement.”
The students will hear a live dramatization of the radio transmissions of the agencies responding to the accident.
First to arrive is a sheriff’s deputy, who surveys the scene and sets up the IC, or Incident Command, which includes staging areas for other responding personnel.
Shortly thereafter, a Ouray police officer arrives, followed by an officer from the Ridgway Marshal’s Department. The Ouray Ambulance is the initial aid responder on scene.
The EMTs from Ouray Ambulance execute their triage before turning their attention to the student ejected from the vehicle, calling for the helicopter.
“To see a helicopter come in and land and haul someone away is impressive and gets the point across,” Lance said.
The county’s extrication unit, Support 11, arrives and tends to the seriously injured driver. The Ridgway Ambulance arrives and renders aid to the other injured parties.
Ridgway Fire arrives and assists in traffic control, extrication of the drivers and fluid spill from the vehicles.
A State Trooper arrives on scene (the State Patrol investigates all accidents) and executes a field-sobriety test on the driver of the students’ car, which the driver fails and is subsequently arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence with vehicular homicide charges pending.
Law enforcement also issues minor-in-possession citations to the other students, and their parents are notified.
“A fatality hits home.”