Raw truth unfolds in 'Every 15 Minutes' simulated deadly DUI crash

San Juan EMTs remove a girl playing the role of a victim in a deadly DUI crash from the Friday Harbor High School football field during Tuesday
San Juan EMTs remove a girl playing the role of a victim in a deadly DUI crash from the Friday Harbor High School football field during Tuesday's the island's third staging of 'Every 15 Minutes' program.
— image credit: Scott Rasmussen

Students assembled on the bleachers while teachers and parents bore witness from nearby, as football field at Friday Harbor High School on Tuesday became the stage for "Every 15 Minutes".

A nationally recognized education and prevention, "Every 15 Minutes" features a simulated fatal DUI vehicle collision and a real-life response to that "mock mass casualty" by local public safety personnel. A nationally recognized program designed to increase awareness and action to reduce alcohol and drug-related injuries and death, "Every 15 Minutes" illustrates in graphic detail a sobering point that one person dies every 15 minutes in the U.S. in a drug or alcohol-related auto collision.

A two-day event, the program includes simulated death announcements every 15 minutes with classes in session at Friday Harbor High School, a catastrophic auto accident demonstration, the arrest and trial of a student for DUI, reactions from students playing the role of victims, as well as from their parents, and a mock funeral.

The mock funeral will be held Wednesday at San Juan Community Theatre.

As in the past, a multitude of island agencies are joining forces to create what San Juan EMS's Lainey Volk, event director, describes as a "real life" experience intended to impact the community and its youth (this year's "Every 15 Minutes" is the third time the program has been staged on San Juan Island).

“We have heard from past participants that after experiencing this event they made choices that saved their lives," Volk said. "For instance, a group of girls did not get into a car with boys who had been drinking. Later that night the boys crashed their vehicle, resulting in one death. It is gratifying, but rare that we get direct feedback of this kind after events of this sort.”

The program is funded by community donations and public agency grants.

— Scott Rasmussen


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