A horrific scene unfolded in a parking lot behind Concordia Lutheran High School, April 16, as crunched metal, pieces of cars and bodies lay sprawled across the pavement. Fortunately the scene was staged, but for many it looked all too real.
Shattered Lives of Tomball staged its annual mock, multi-victim crash scene for students and family of the high school, to bring awareness about drunk driving. "Victims" are either pronounced dead at the scene or transported by both helicopter and ambulance to Tomball Regional Hospital. "Perpetrators" are then transported to jail to face consequences for "driving drunk".
"We try to make it as realistic as possible," said Shattered Lives co-director Kim Garrett. "We go to great lengths to put this presentation on."
After the program, students are transported to an off-location retreat for the rest of the day, where they have no communication with the outside world.
"It's an actual deal with the result of they didn't come home from school, come home from practice, in order to make it real," Garrett said. "They can't call and tell people hey, I'm really ok."
The next day the students participated in a mock memorial service at Concordia Lutheran, where the entire student body sees a video that shows footage from scenes of the crash, hospital and the Tomball jail.
Tomball Police, Tomball Fire and Northwest EMS actually respond to the scene and work it as a real accident, providing training for the departments as well.
"It shows that the coordination between the agencies is like a symphony," Tomball Police Chief Robert Hauck said. "There are a lot of moving parts."
Beyond that, Hauck said the program provides a very inportant and humbling experience for participants.
"It's important because it heightens awareness of driving under the influence for both students and parents," he said. "It's a demonstration about how tragic the loss of life really is, especially when it is due to the poor decisions of others."
Tomball Fire Chief Randy Parr agreed.
"It shows how dire the consequences of one bad decision can be," he said.
Tomball Regional Hospital also uses the program as an active training event, as the "victims" are brought into their emergency room, overloading them with multiple trauma victims at one time.
"This is an opportunity for multi-agency cooperation to test our response with EMS providers in a mass casualty situation, so that we can better serve our providers," said Tomball Regional's emergency room director Michelle Henderson.
Parents have to travel to the emergency room and actually watch the doctors and nurses attempt to save their children. Many of them had to watch, as the decision was made to stop treatment and their children were pronounced "dead".
"It was a very real and sobering experience," said Pat Harrison, whose daughter Tess played a victim. "It kind of put everything into perspective."
Harrison said the message was well received among his daughter and her friends.
"I think the message is very well received," he said. "I had a discussion with my daughter and some of her friends about it and the entire experience was emotional."
The students that participated agreed.
"It was really realistic to be honest," said Concordia Lutheran senior Jay Stracke. "It was heartbreaking. I could hear my parents crying and I realized how easily life can be taken from you."
Senior Lauren Soule made a plea for people to think about others before making the choice to drink and drive.
"I'd like to tell people to think twice the next time," she said. "It will have an impact on people who do not want to be a part of your choices and it's not fair to them or their families."
For a photo gallery of this event, please visit our Flickr page.