Northwest NEWS

May 28, 2001



WHS seniors can handle the truth

By Bronwyn Wilson
   "Warning," the words light up on a white screen, "this program is graphic in nature." Woodinville High School (WHS) students in Mr. Crosby and Mr. Hedden's Senior Issues class are on notice.
   They are about to view slides of disturbing scenes. It's fifth period in Room 211 and public fire educator and information officer Dave Leggett from Fire Station 31 and Dale Walling from Fire Station 35 are beginning a final in-class presentation.
   A slide show of real-life car accidents and their victims is about to begin. The presentation is a reminder to students of the tragic consequences for teens making the choice to mix alcohol with driving. The room becomes quiet. Lights dim.
   First, the facts blast onto the screen. Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for teens between the ages of 15 and 19.
   Another fact. Males are two times more likely to be involved in an alcohol-related crash than females.
   "Females can handle their liquor?" one male student wonders aloud. "We make better choices," a female student responds matter-of-factly.
   Final fact. There is an alcohol-related car crash every 32 minutes in the United States.
   Then, the accident scenes. Get a grip. A black sedan-type vehicle rests upside down in the middle of the road. Its tires face the sky.
   Next slide. A close-up shot of a young man beneath the upside-down car, his head flattened and blood oozing on pavement. A unanimous gasp from students and quickly the scene vanishes from the screen.
   "A seatbelt would have kept that person inside the car," said Leggett who explains the excuses people have been known to give for not wearing one. Two examples include, "I have air bags" and "It's too uncomfortable."
   Next. A teen, still in his driving position and seated behind the steering wheel, is completely burned and his body looking like charcoal. The following slide is very difficult to look at. A young male is cut in half. Walling explains that this is what speed and alcohol do.
   Leggett talks about the bottomless cup at a kegger party. "Things get spinning around and people want to refill your cup," he says.
   A person is legally intoxicated at .08, Leggett states, and asks the students what is allowed. In a group response, the students correctly answer 0.0.
   Leggett says that a 175-pound male will become intoxicated after having four drinks in one hour.
   Women, he says, experience alcohol differently and it would take fewer drinks in an hour for a female to become intoxicated. He clarifies that women absorb alcohol more quickly and the process accelerates if they are on birth control pills.
   Last slide. Young tanned female in shorts and white tennis shoes hangs partially inside a badly dented car that resembles a crunched pop can. The female, Leggett says, is deceased and hadn't worn her seatbelt at the time of the crash.
   Lights on. Are there volunteers for a demonstration? Three students stand in front of the classroom and demonstrate choices that can be made when a friend has had too much to drink at a party.
   If the person passes out, keep him or her alert and turn the person on their side, say Leggett and Walling. This keeps the person free from choking should vomiting occur.
   Walling shows examples of medical treatment given at the scene of an accident. Victims are checked for respiration, pulse and level of consciousness. He demonstrates how an airway is established to help a victim breathe.
   Leggett states that surviving crash victims need more fluids in their body before their organs start to deflate. He describes how an injured person is placed on a backboard and says they could remain there for 8 to 12 hours.
   He tells of the tubes and needles and the excruciating pain a victim endures. Patients with severe injuries are airlifted to Harborview Hospital.
   To wrap up, Leggett asks the class if the classroom presentation makes a difference on the overall safety of drivers? Yes, the students reply.
   Later, after the class, Leggett says, "Since we've been providing these programs for the students, we've seen a reduction in DUI incidents [in the area]."
   This program was presented to the entire WHS senior class on May 23 and May 24. Woodinville Fire & Life Safety has been giving the hard truth and cold facts about drinking and driving to area high schools for the past nine years.