A beautiful clear morning outside the Cypress Community Center was shattered by the sounds of a car crash. Calls to 911 reported a brutal two-car accident with multiple horrible injuries.
The dispatcher immediately started the emergency response. First to arrive was a Cypress Police Officer on a motorcycle, soon joined by other police units. Then firefighters from Orange County Fire Authority Station 17, and responders from CARE Ambulance. A helicopter circled overhead for several minutes.
Three teenagers were eventually carried away in ambulances for treatment. Radio transmissions indicated that two of them were in dire condition. Another teen had only minor injuries and was able to walk away from the accident, the most fortunate of all involved in the two-vehicle incident.
Unfortunately, all the first responders were too late to save one teenage girl; OCFA firefighters gently placed her on the nearby grass under a sheet. As funeral home employees arrived to collect her body, her friend answered cops’ questions and performed field sobriety tests – which she failed. While one teenager was loaded into the back of a van to be taken to the funeral home, another was put in the back of a police cruiser for driving under the influence of alcohol.
While this scenario was only a very elaborate skit (put together through the cooperation of multiple agencies and organizations, as well as Cypress High School), its basis is altogether too real.
The Every 15 Minutes organization takes its name from the statistic that a teenager is killed in an alcohol-related vehicle accident every fifteen minutes.
It’s a chilling statistic, but it’s easy to dismiss statistics. It’s less easy to ignore seeing such an event played out involving friends and classmates.
The first responders and others who participated acted out their parts as if it were a real traffic accident in front of the Cypress Community Center. Even the radio transmissions, piped over the microphone system, used accurate codes and location and specific injury descriptions.
Though the car accident reenactment is arguably the most dramatic part of the two-day program, Every 15 Minutes also features personal stories and other events designed to shock the students with the grim reality of the dangers of drinking and driving.
After all, just because you haven’t crashed yet doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen in the future. Every time you get behind the wheel while impaired, you don’t just put yourself in danger, but everyone around you as well. Friends, family, and total strangers.
For more information about Every 15 Minutes, visit their website, www.every15minutes.com.