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South Kitsap High students 'get real' in mock drill
A group of teens arrived on the scene of a two-car collision and scream in horror of finding schoolmates motionless inside the wreckage. Some attend to victims, while other standby and watching helplessly.
Police officers arrive on the scene with emergency medical personnel to provide medical aid to victims and extract an injured teen from a small wrecked vehicle. Investigators talk to witnesses and those involved in the crash to determine the cause. A female driver is given a breath test and later handcuffed by an officer.
Later, the Kitsap County Corner’s Office arrived to pronounce one victim dead with several others injured.
The scene was part of a mock DUI drill by the South Kitsap Fire and Rescue, in conjunction with the Port Orchard Police Department and South Kitsap High School.
Hundreds of seniors sitting on the grass hill in front of the high school watched as police, firefighters and emergency medical personnel went through the mock drill — one day before the school’s May 4 senior prom.
Members of the school’s acting assemble demonstrated their skills portraying victims and a group of classmates who come across a two-car accident after prom night.
Principal Jerry Holsten encouraged the seniors to look at the dramatization as something that unfortunately “happens too often.”
During the demonstration, Police Officer Donna Main walked the seniors through procedures police and emergency response teams go through when responding to a collision.
“This is a scene that we see a lot through our careers and collisions that took place in our city and county,” Main said.
In a real scenario, Main told students the driver would be arrested, taken to jail and tested to determine her alcohol-blood level, booked and face arraignment.
“Because of one death on the scene, the driver will arrested for at least vehicular homicide,” Main said. “She will be given a bright orange jumpsuit.”
Trooper recalls 25 years ago
Washington State Trooper Mike McMillian, a 1987 SKHS grad, recalled his prom night 25 years ago when one of his close friends was killed.
McMillian said his friend was coming home after a post-prom party when he was killed in an accident.
“Whatever your plans are, let’s make it a zero alcohol night,” McMillian told the seniors. “We don’t need anybody else from prom not make it through that night.”
McMillian said he doesn’t want to knock on a parents’ door and ask them was “this your son” or “was this your daughter.”
“I do not want to do that,” said the 20-year veteran.
McMillian told the group whether they are passengers or driver, things can happen.
“You guys are the best friends you’ve got,” he added. “Watch each others back and if someone is making a dumb decision, call them on it. Just make smart decisions.”
15 years of mock drills
Battalion Chief Mike Wernet said its the 15th year SKFR has demonstrated the mock drill.
“We started his 15 years ago when we had five fatalities in the county — three from South Kitsap during prom and graduation ceremonies,” Wernet said.
He said the department feels very strong about putting on the mock drill each year.
“We focus a lot on the drinking and driving aspect, but it today’s society it’s becoming more of a distracted driver,” Wernet said.
He also warned about the dangers of texting and talking on cellphones while driving.
“It’s more distracting than drinking and driving,” Wernet said.
He noted that every 15 minutes, someone dies from a traffic-related accident.
“We’re out here doing this for you,” he added. “We see this every day and take it home with us. We have kids your age.”
Wernet recalled an accident scene with four teenage girls in an upside-down truck, where one was killed and three seriously injured.
“Every single one of them looked like my daughter, who was one year older than them,” he said. “We remember thoses things and take it with us. It’s very emotional for our crew.”
Wernet praised the actors for the emotions shown during the demonstration.
Kitsap County Coroner Greg Sandstorm, also an SKHS graduate, asked the seniors how many have plans for the future.
“Some of you won’t make it if you make wrong decisions,” he replied.
Sandstrom, who was state trooper for 13 years before becoming a coroner, said he has seen thousands of dead people.
“It’s important that you get the message today,” Main said. “You are important to us. This is why we do this every day.”
Holsten urged his seniors to make smart and informative decisions, as well as making their friends do the same
“This happens way to often,” Holsten told his seniors. “The whole thing here is a message.”
Bethel Towing also participated in the drill.