McGregor Memorial EMS in the News
Students see crash wreckage firsthand
In The New Hampshire
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The street is a mess with two cars in the middle, one on top of the other as if it were being used as a launch ramp in a movie stunt scene. Broken glass and beer cans crunch underfoot as police and firefighters rush to the heap of lifeless metal.
Luckily, April 9 served as only part of a training exercise for the UNH police, Durham Fire Department and McGregor Memorial EMS to test their response time and action in the event of a DWI accident.
"The DWI accident was used to illustrate to the students of the Citizens Police Academy the realities of drunk driving and critical work of those public safety professionals who work to protect lives here at UNH and the in the community," said Paul Dean, chief of the UNH Police Department.
The Citizens Police Academy is a 12-week class that can be taken by UNH students or anyone in the community who want to be further educated on how the police force works. The academy is mostly composed of students who are thinking about being in law enforcement after they graduate, according to Officer Rusty Wilson of the UNH Police Department.
The academy has been running for the past three years, and has gotten more and more popular each year, said Wilson. He said the mock accident was the first of its kind in Durham.
"Each year we get bigger and bigger, last year we had a mock arrest and this year we have this," said Wilson.
In order to drive this message home, three of the class members were placed in the cars of the mock DWI as the accident was called in. As soon as units arrived the whole demonstration unfolded as if it were a real accident. The driver of the DWI car was immediately arrested after failing a sobriety test, while victims were cut out of their cars by the fire department.
"It's amazing how fast all of the units are ready to respond," said senior psychology major Jered Neff, who said he wants to become an officer after college. "It's mindboggling watching all of the departments come together and work as one unit."
Tatjana Thomas, a freshman at New Hampshire Technical Institute and a student of the academy, had a completely different experience of the event. Thomas portrayed one of the injured passengers and had to be cut from the damaged car.
"It's a completely different part of the demonstration," said Thomas. "I got to interact with the personnel that were in the car with me while they were doing their procedure."
Firefighter Warren Kadden enjoyed the simulation for other reasons, as this was one of his first drills of this nature since he left the academy seven months ago.
"It's pretty fun and realistic," he said. "It's not like you get to cut cars every day."
The entire event was filmed by SCAN-TV so the departments can use the mock-up as a training video, according to Wilson. He said the test was also a good time for rookies to get experience with procedures that must be done in order to save a victim's life.
"These drills are very important" said Assistant Fire Chief Jason Cleary. "It's a small department, and we don't always get a chance to work with everyone."
By the time the demonstration was over, one car was left with no doors, windows or windshield, and the vehicle even had the roof removed. While the physical debris from the accident would be cleaned up within an hour, there would still be much more work to do if the event wasn't just staged, according to Wilson.
"If this were a real accident, there would be hours of paperwork to follow up on after the fact," he said. "The work doesn't stop once the accident is cleaned up."