Mock crash gives students reality check at Lake Cowichan

Lake Cowichan volunteer firefighters work to extract the driver from a vehicle while other first responders get to work helping survivors. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Lake Cowichan volunteer firefighters and paramedics work to extract the driver from a vehicle. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Actor Mikyla Carlow plays the role of the distracted driver as first responders tend to an ejected passenger as Lake Cowichan’s emergency responders and actors staged a mock crash at Lake Cowichan School Tuesday, April 9. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Tanya Trafford, an auxiliary constable based out of the Lake Cowichan RCMP detachment made no bones about the purpose of a mock crash scenario at Lake Cowichan School Tuesday afternoon.

“We’re trying to scare them,” she said of the Grades 10 through 12 students invited to witness the devastation.

Trafford was the main organizer of the simulated crash that featured wrecked cars, actors, and real emergency services personnel.

“We want them to see what will happen if they are not paying attention,” she explained. “This is distracted driving and this is what happens.”

Inside the theatre, Trafford spoke to the students about the seriousness of distracted driving before playing the sound of a crash.

“On average 29 youth are killed in car crashes every year,” she told students. “If there were 29 young people murdered every year in this province, would we be reacting differently to it? Probably. So why are we treating this different?”

“If you are texting and driving and you have an ‘accident’ is it an accident? No. It’s a crash. It is preventable. We’re here today to try to prevent it from happening.”

“Speed and distracted driving are the main factors in driving accidents for kids today. On average in B.C. there are 82 car crashes per day involving youth. Every single day. We are not looking at it seriously enough.”

Lights, sirens, hurt people, fire crews, police, paramedics and more, “I want you guys to understand this is what really truly happens in a crash,” Trafford concluded.

Mikyla Carlow, 20, was the lead actor and explained that as a medical first responder with St. John Ambulance, she’s witnessed first-hand the aftermath of a crash.

“Oh what did I do!” she screamed. “My phone, I should have just left it! I shouldn’t have used it,” she hollered as the actors in the other cars emerged with various injuries.

Shortly thereafter first responders began to arrive.

St. John Ambulance personnel drove by and stopped to help. Then came the paramedics, fire crews, police and victim services. Recruits were pulled from the audience to help give aid to the victims.

Real first responders volunteered to attend the scene and act as they would following a regular crash.

“They’re all for it because it means less accidents,” Trafford explained. It also gives the crews a chance to practice.

“This is as real as it gets without it being real,” she added.

Following the crash presentation the students were ushered back inside to hear guest speaker Nathan Cook talk about speed, seat-belt use, decision making, alcohol and drug use, and distracted and aggressive driving.

Cook, a road safety speaker for ICBC, said “It’s the story of my daughter and how she was killed in a car crash. It happened right close to our home and she died in my hands in the hospital. I have a unique opportunity to share that story with the kids.”

It’s Cook’s inaugural tour with the ICBC-supported project.

“The impact is quite great,” he said.

Cowichan Lake School principal Jaime Doyle said it’s an important message to send to kids as they start to approach the legal driving age and are operating vehicles.

“This brings it a little closer to home. The whole community has come out,” Doyle said. “It’s really good to see all of our first responders from the community out here today showing the importance of this to the kids. I think that also carries with it a great deal of weight with it for the kids — that we see it as important, and they need to see it as important, too.”

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