ExtricationRed Bank Regional students watch a simulated Medevac event as part of Project Prom, an annual program that encourages seniors to make smart choices during a time when many drunken driving events occur.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

On a brilliant sunny June morning, the Little Silver police department informed the communities abutting Red Bank Regional High School to ignore the wailing fire sirens, police horns, and whirling blades of the Northstar NJ State Police medevac helicopter.

The latter touched down at the RBR ball field, as another Project Prom crash demonstration was staged for this year’s senior class. The program is coordinated by Little Silver Officer Pete Gibson, along with RBR’s School Resource Officer Robert Chenoweth and RBR Student Assistance Counselor Lori Todd.

Three students and their teacher portrayed crash victims in this year’s demonstration. RBR Class president Dan Lloyd of Shrewsbury played the role of the drunken driver, who escaped without serious injury but was handcuffed in front of his fellow students for arrest. Lauren Ferraro of Shrewsbury and Luis Beltran of Red Bank played the innocent injured parties.

Luis’s neck was secured in a brace, as he was carefully removed to a stretcher by Little Silver and Shrewsbury EMS officers, and transported to a waiting ambulance. Lauren, whose injuries were deemed “life-threatening,” was pried out of the car by firefighters using the powerful Jaws of Life equipment, loaded on a stretcher and rushed to the Medevac helicopter for transfer to a trauma center.

RBR teacher Scott Ferris did not fare as well. He was “pronounced dead,” loaded in a body bag and secured in a hearse, furnished for the exercise by the John Day Funeral Home in Red Bank.

Senior Jazmiera Smothers commented on the demonstration, “It was very important that we had this program just before attending prom. Seeing that hearse pull up especially makes you think about the repercussions to drinking and driving.”

Just before the Northstar helicopter left the field, flight paramedic Michael Carrig told the students, “In the next 30 days, someone your age will fly in this helicopter; we don’t want you to end up in this helicopter.”

Once the senior class returned to the building, they attended a special assembly where they were addressed by several speakers. Monmouth County Defense attorney Mitch Ansell, who has represented numerous DWI clients, explained the strict laws in New Jersey for underage drinking.  He also read a letter from one of his clients, a 22 year old former Rutgers’ college student who made a fateful decision to drink and drive and killed a father of four in a drunken driving collision. He is currently serving a seven year sentence instead of attending college and beginning his life. But most tragically, four children would grow up without their father.

Funeral Director John Tildon, who has performed his professional services at many crash sites, spoke to the devastation left in the wake of the crash as family members must identify and bury their loved ones. Jersey Shore Trauma Center nurse Molly Berkowitz explained exactly what happens to victims once they are brought to her trauma center. Jersey Shore, the designated trauma center for Monmouth and Ocean Counties, is required to treat 500 life-threatening emergencies a year to keep the status of trauma center. She told the students that the center reaches that number by March, and will see well over 2000 patients a year. Students listened intently as she held up the frightening instruments used to crack open a victim’s chest and spread their ribs so trauma surgeons could work with precision having precious minutes only to save a life. She explained the protocol to emergency treatment which follows an alphabetic list –Airway, Breath, Circulation, etc..; cautioning that while the patient may be in terrible pain; that is not a priority and isn’t addressed until protocol “G” — giving comfort — is reached.

In addition to the mock-crash, Project Prom activities continued throughout the week leading up to prom. Police officers from Little Silver visited senior health and gym classes detailing the fines and penalties for drunken driving and sharing national statistics on the incidents of alcohol-related crashes. On the day of prom, Officer Chenoweth conducted a simulated drunken driving course using golf carts and fatal-vision goggles. Student attempted to perform exercises while wearing the goggles which simulate a vision handicap similar to intoxication.  They were very surprised at what little control they had with such impairment.

One mantra repeated by most program participants was “if we can reach just one of you, and dissuade you from making a poor decision, this program has done its job.”