One instant of inattention can alter a life forever. That was the lesson learned at State Fair Community College Thursday morning as the college hosted a mock crash to bring awareness to the importance of driver awareness.
“We do this on a yearly basis for awareness,” said Ben Bahner, Pettis County Resource Deputy and Pettis County Deputy Coroner. “It is a real-time mock accident that we do so people can see the before, during and after occurrences that take place at an accident.
“We know that if we are able to bring this in front of more eyes then we have a greater opportunity for more lives that can be saved,” Bahner added.
More than 100 individuals attended Thursday’s event and watched members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Sedalia Fire Department, Pettis County Sheriff’s Department, and Pettis County Ambulance District work the mock crash.
Members of the SFCC nursing and criminal justice programs along with students from the fine arts department participated in the event portraying both victims and emergency responders.
“For us, it’s real every time we roll whether it’s training or not,” SFD Capt. Jamie Volk said. “Each time we go out it is with the belief that everyone goes home alive to their family in one piece.
“We take our training very seriously and make sure that everyone is paying attention,” Volk added. “These are all human lives we are dealing with.”
The groups who participated in the event were pleased with the drill and the performance of their respective personnel.
“It was a good event,” SFD Deputy Fire Chief Greg Harrell said. “From start to finish, the event took about 20 minutes which is very close to the timing of what a may happen at an actual accident.”
Sheriff Kevin Bond was also pleased with the success of the mock accident.
“This is an opportunity for students to see what emergency personnel do in an accident or emergency situation,” Bond said. “The No. 1 thing that we are trying to pass on though is the dangers of texting, drinking and inattentive driving and how quickly a life can change because of those factors.
“We have had several tragic incidents this year that have had very tragic results,” Bond added. “We need others to understand that it not only affects the lives of the people directly involved but also their family and friends as well.”
In Thursday’s mock accident a “drunk driver” hit a parked car. Both the driver in the mock accident and his passenger survived the accident, although the passenger were “seriously injured.”
A mock-pedestrian who was walking to class was also “seriously injured” in the scenario.
Two students who were riding their bikes across campus were pronounced “dead at the scene” by Pettis County Coroner Skip Smith.
“We started doing these accidents about 15 or 16 years ago,” Smith said. “At first they were close to prom season and we wanted to make students aware of the effects of drinking and driving.
“Now there are so many other factors that we are seeing in accidents,” Smith added. “We still see a lot of drinking and driving and accidents that are related to substance abuse as well as people texting and in general not paying attention to what they are doing when they are behind the wheel.”
Two other mock accidents will be hosted in upcoming weeks at Northwest High School and Smith-Cotton High School.
Smith agreed with the other officials present that the mock accident was good training for all involved but the main reason for the drill was as a public service.
“It is good to do these as training because it helps us all to understand our roles throughout the various agencies,” Smith said. “But the main reason we do this is to make others aware of just how quickly an accident can happen and a life can be lost.
“If we are able to have saved one life through this then we all accomplished our goal.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484