A red Dodge Grand Caravan and a red Chevy Sonic rested just outside of Mid-Buchanan High School Monday — both with smashed front ends, cracked windshields and deployed airbags.
Red and blue lights flashed on top of a Buchanan County Sheriff vehicle and a helicopter could be heard overhead as high school students watched the scene unfold.
Grace Jenkins, sophomore, was in one of the vehicles with another student.
“I knew it wasn’t real but … people have been in this situation before and it’s scary knowing that they have,” Jenkins said.
Buchanan County Sheriff’s deputies and the Missouri State Highway Patrol held a mock drunken driving accident presentation at Mid-Buchanan on Monday. High school students had the opportunity to see what a drunken driving accident scene looks like and how emergency crews respond.
Four students pretended to have been involved in an accident and their classmates watched as emergency personnel and a helicopter responded, taking Jenkins into the helicopter on a stretcher because she played the role of a critically injured victim.
Cpl. Sarah Hardin, Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department, said involving Mid-Buchanan students in the mock accident was imperative.
“We want to make it real for them and involve their own students,” Hardin said. “I think it’s easier to push it away and not deal with it when it’s just a video or outsiders telling us things. But when we see our own students who are part of our school family here, it hits home a little bit more.”
Jenkins applied makeup to her face to make it appear as though she had been badly injured and was bleeding. She said emergency responders spoke to her during the mock accident as if it was a real incident.
“I definitely don’t want to be in a helicopter in that situation, seriously. I was in that helicopter thinking about all the people who have probably ridden in that helicopter and were in bad shape,” Jenkins said.
Hardin said members of the St. Joseph Safety Council feel it’s important to visit area schools in the spring before prom to hold the drunken driving presentation.
“We educate kids throughout the year, but we want to give a little extra reminder in the springtime as we know they are heading out to big parties,” Hardin said.
Freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors at Mid-Buchanan participated Monday. The school holds the presentation every other year, allowing each student to see it twice before graduating. Schools in St. Joseph School District hold the presentation every year for the sophomore class, Hardin said.
Jenkins said she thinks Monday’s presentation had an impact on her classmates.
“At the beginning, they kind of laughed when they saw us and said, ‘Oh, that’s so funny. Grace has makeup on her face and she’s trying not to smile.’ But then I think maybe they were like, ‘This is serious and this needs to be taken seriously,’” Jenkins said. “We’ve had this experience before so we don’t need to joke about it.”
A Mid-Buchanan student was involved in a drunken driving accident at the beginning of the school year where he was hit by a drunken driver, Hardin said.
“The students here have watched him as he recovers from that accident and how his life has changed as a result of that accident,” Hardin said. “So it kind of hits home here but we still want to do that extra reminder that it’s easy to lose yourself on prom night or at graduation parties and forget to be safe.”