EAU CLAIRE, Wis. –– The scene is something out of every parent’s and friend’s worst nightmare. Young people talk at a party after they have been drinking alcohol. Next comes the sound of squealing tires, breaking glass, crushing metal. The intoxicated driver stumbles from the vehicle, distraught at the sight of injured friends, pleading with rescuers who work feverishly over the limp bodies.

Then the unthinkable happens: A body bag is lifted into a hearse.

This simulated scene plays out annually at area high schools to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving. These trauma simulations are timed close to high-risk periods for drinking and driving, such as prom and graduation. This spring, area high schools are partnering with Mayo Clinic Health System, Mayo One, local law enforcement and other area organizations to hold prom trauma simulations at:

  • Elmwood High School: 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 19
  • Elk Mound High School: 9 a.m. on Friday, April 21
  • Boyceville High School: 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 25
  • Durand High School: 1 p.m. on Friday, April 28
  • Eau Claire North High School: 1:30 p.m. on Friday, May 5
  • Lake Holcombe High School: 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 9
  • Eau Claire Memorial High School: 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 11

Following the simulation, speakers talk about what happens after a crash. A police officer discusses charges for the intoxicated driver. A health care professional speaks about treatment patients would need and possible long-term health effects. A hospital chaplain tells the audience how the family of the deceased is notified. A funeral director discusses how he helps a family plan a funeral.

Mayo Clinic Health System has partnered with other area organizations to bring these simulations to schools for more than 20 years. No auto fatalities of prom students because of alcohol use have occurred in the area during this time.

“As a Level II Trauma Center, we care for crash victims and their family and friends, but we would much rather not have the need,” says Joni Gilles, trauma injury prevention and emergency medical services coordinator at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire. “Research shows these simulations do result in behavior change. We appreciate schools partnering with us and other community organizations to bring a safety message to young people.”

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