Life-Saving Lessons

Published 11:01 am Friday, April 24, 2009

ROME TOWNSHIP — The blood was fake. The injuries came from well-applied makeup and latex. That grisly car crash Thursday morning was pretend. But Connie Campbell has seen too many that weren’t as part of her duties at the trauma services at St. Mary’s Medical Center.

“Day after day we take care of them. We see kids come in dead. Kids saying ‘please save me’ and we couldn’t. Children who don’t see the point of wearing a seat belt,” Campbell said.

That’s why she was compelled to join in St. Mary’s efforts to keep teens safe while they’re out driving. What they have come up with is “Shattered Dreams,” a combination of mock crash and multi-media event to keep teens from drinking and driving; reinforcing the necessity of wearing their seat belts and keeping them off their cell phones while behind the wheel of a car.

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Joining in the effort was the Ohio State Highway Patrol, SEOEMS, the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, Cabell Huntington Hospital and the Rome Volunteer Fire Department.

The “drama” started in the parking lot of Fairland High School where a smashed up Grand Am was parked, broken glass caked the pavement. Soon the actors came on the scene.

Lauren Cundiff played the fatality at the scene, “killed” as her body supposedly was thrown through the windshield of the car.

As she was getting fitted with her bag of fake blood that would surreptitiously dripped down her arm, Cundiff talked about the impact she believed the mock crash would have on her peers.

“The visual effects more than speeches will hit home,” Cundiff said. “Showing is more effective.

We’re not trying to guilt trip anyone, but these are the facts. This can happen to you.”

Dalton Froehlich was the trauma victim who had to be extricated from the car by the Rome Volunteer Fire Department using the Jaws of Life.

He was then rushed inside to the ersatz trauma center at the Fairland gym where actual emergency room doctors pronounced him “dead” before an assembly of students.

Andrew Scholl played the drunk driver who failed all field sobriety tests and was taken off in handcuffs by the highway patrol.

Next one of the ER doctors, Chad Smith from St. Mary’s, showed some graphic and tragic slides of teen-aged car accident victims.

“When you are dealing with a vehicle, you are dealing with a bullet,” Smith told the students. “It’s not just alcohol. Driving with a cell phone, text-messaging impairs us as much as drugs and alcohol.”

Joining Smith were Trooper Tiffiany Coriell and Sherry Hamilton, an Ironton mother who lost her son, Aaron Kelley, four years ago in a drunk driving accident on South Third Street.

Coriell recounted the times she has had to tell family members that their loved one has been killed in a crash.

“You knock on someone’s door to say that family member or child is not coming home,” she said. “They fall in your arms. They scream.

“Be safe,” she told the teens. “Know we’re out there and out there so you can go to the prom and go to college.”