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Mascenic/WLC

A stark  reminder

Ahead of prom and graduation season, students at Mascenic, WLC get acted-out version of a fatal scene

  • New Ipswich Police, Fire and Souhegan Ambulance coordinated a mock accident outside of Mascenic Regional High School on Thursday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Mascenic Regional High School students watch a demonstration of a mock fatal car crash in the school parking lot on Thursday afternoon.<br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • New Ipswich Police, Fire and Souhegan Ambulance coordinated a mock accident outside of Mascenic Regional High School on Thursday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • New Ipswich Fire Department officials use the jaws of life to remove the hood of a car to extricate a student playing an accident victim during Mascenic's mock fatal car crash scenario on Thursday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Souhegan Valley Ambulance Service responders coordinate with New Ipswich Fire Department firefighters to transport Asia Traffie, 18, of New Ipswich, who played a victim in Mascenic's two-car motor vehicle accident. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • New Ipswich Police, Fire and Souhegan Ambulance coordinated a mock accident outside of Mascenic Regional High School on Thursday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • New Ipswich Police, Fire and Souhegan Ambulance coordinated a mock accident outside of Mascenic Regional High School on Thursday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • New Ipswich Police, Fire and Souhegan Ambulance coordinated a mock accident outside of Mascenic Regional High School on Thursday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Wilton emergency responders show a crowd of Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Middle and High School students the consequences of driving impaired with a mock accident Friday morning. The scenario was arranged by Wilton student Sam Norford, who is a member of the fire Explorers and a trained EMT.
  • UMass Memorial sent in a Lifeflight as part of the Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Middle and High School mock motor vehicle accident, to serve as transport for a student playing a person severely injured in a motor vehicle crash.

It’s chaos. Sirens wail as police, fire and ambulance crews converge on the scene of two demolished cars. One driver on the pavement, the other stumbling from his vehicle. Fire crews prepare the jaws of life to extricate trapped passengers, while ambulance crews hurry to cover the driver of an overturned vehicle — a fatality.

The chaos is real, the police, fire and ambulance crews are real, and so is the hearse that appears to carry away the body of the driver. But the scene is staged. The young drivers and passengers are played by students, and the cars are vehicles that have been involved in previous accidents. It’s an elaborate event, put together to show students of local high schools what can happen when they get behind the wheel impaired.

Both Mascenic Regional High School in New Ipswich and Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative Middle and High School put on mock fatal crashes last week —Mascenic on Thursday and Wilton-Lyndeborough on Friday — in preparation for the upcoming prom and graduation season.

In Wilton-Lyndeborough, the mock crash was organized by senior Sam Norford, 17, of Wilton. Norford has long had an interest in emergency response — he’s been a fire Explorer for more than two years, and has completed Firefighter I training at Mascenic, and only recently completed training to become an Emergency Medical Technician.

“I really wanted my senior project to be something to incorporate emergency services, and do something for the community,” said Norford in a phone interview Tuesday. “I’ve seen some bad accidents, and I’m trying to prevent that. I don’t want to see any of my classmates in an accident like that.”

Norford has spent the last several months coordinating the event, meeting with Police Chief Brent Hautanen, Ambulance Chief Gary Zirpolo, Fire Chief Ray Dick, and members of Smith and Heald Funeral Home and Wilton Towing, all part of the staged chaos of the mock accident. Zirpolo even helped to arrange a helicopter Lifeflight to be flown in from UMass Memorial for the occasion.

In Mascenic, this is an event put on by the Fire Department once every four years. Every student will see it at least once before they graduate, but it doesn’t become routine, said New Ipswich Deputy Fire Chief Meredith Lund.

Every time Mascenic holds a mock crash, they try to recruit students well known throughout the school — club leaders or sports team members who are recognized throughout the school.

Brady Pittman, of 18, of Brookline, who played the drunk driver who caused the Mascenic mock crash and acted out the process of a sobriety test and arrest, said that even though he knew it was fake, the whole thing was a terrifying and sobering experience.

“I knew it wasn’t real, and it was still an eye opening experience,” he said. “I’m never going to drink and drive.”

Curtis Fournier, 18, of Greenville, who played one of the accident victims, said of the accident, “It’s just so intense. It feels so real when you’re in that situation. I can’t imagine how terrifying it would be if I was really hurt.”

Lund, who organized the Mascenic crash, said if one student decides not to drive impaired because of the demonstration, it’s all worth it.

“We’ve bee doing this 16 years. I don’t know how many lives we’ve saved, but I’m sure we’ve saved a couple. Every person we can get through High School and onto the next stage of their life, we’ve done our job,” she said Thursday.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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