Brad Norman sent out a message to parents of students at Chester High School, telling them not to be alarmed if they heard or saw emergency vehicles rushing to the high school.
Norman, the driver education teacher at CHS, noted the school's students were about to receive a very visual lesson in automobile safety.
The students left the building on April 6 and went to the east side of the campus, where they discovered two wrecked vehicles with four of their fellow students covered in blood. Sirens pierced the air and police cars began to arrive. Ambulances were not far behind. Firetrucks came next and the students were watching what unfolds when a car accident happens.
It wasn't real -- but for the students, it was a lesson in the realities of what happens when you drive irresponsibly
CHS Principal Missy Meyer explained that all of this was made possible by a group effort of the local police department, the fire department, Illinois State Police, Medstar, AirEvac and the city of Chester. Chester Police Chief Ryan Coffey and Sgt. Bobby Helmers both agreed that they have seen far too many tragedies like this demonstration happen, especially on prom nights and graduations. Education is the best prevention. The cause of accidents are many, impaired driving is one of leading causes but so is distracted driving. Texting and phone usage are causing many accidents especially with young drivers.
The Chester Police demonstrated how the driver responsible for the accident, portrayed by Montana Rose, was removed from the scene in handcuffs and placed in the back seat of a squad car. The Chester Fire Department began using the "Jaws of Life" to remove the roof of one of the cars. Medstar attendants gently removed the most seriously injured, portrayed by Lake Fogerson, and placed him on a stretcher. An AirEvac helicopter was dispatched and landed behind the gym to take Fogerson to a trauma hospital.
Fire Chief Marty Bert said that he has been involved in many of these rescues over his 30-year career. He explained that while this demonstration took nearly an hour, in real life it moves much faster. The AirEvac in our area would transport serious injuries directly to either St. Louis or Cape Girardeau, as local hospitals are not equipped for major traumas.
The reactions of the students varied. Many of them watched intently, talking among themselves in small groups, some were visibly concerned and some were amazed at how fast and how serious everything played out in the situation.
The hope is that all of the students will be aware of the importance of safe driving and realize the severe consequences which can occur when they fail to do so.
"Not all lessons are taught in a classroom," Norman said.