Rain pours down while puddles form in the gravel area. Temperatures are chilly for the end of April. One teenager is stretched out on the ground with what looks like a stick protruding from his neck. Another one lays on the hood of a Jeep Liberty that has been damaged from what appears to be a head-on collision. Beer cans are scattered on the ground.
You can hear a teenage girl yell and scream frantically while she attempts to wake up her friend with no luck.
“What have you done?” she screams to the teenage boy that was behind the wheel of a van.
The dreary afternoon offers the perfect backdrop for the Ghost-Out at Alpena High School on April 25.
Ghost-Out is a program organized by the North Arkansas Regional Medical Center EMS department. Each year, they create scenes like this one in order to show high school students the consequences of poor decisions.
Students hear sound effects that emulate a crash and then a 911 call. Law enforcement is the first to arrive on the scene, followed by first responders and EMTs. The last to arrive are the funeral home staff and the mother of the teen that lost her life. The scene is very realistic and emotional.
“I hope the students learn that these fatal accidents happen every day and can happen to them if they choose to drink and drive,” Air Evac Flight nurse Carrie Reynolds, RN, CEN, NREMT-P, said. “I also pray they learn that the implications of bad decisions can negatively impact the rest of their lives.”
After the scene, students gathered in the gymnasium to discuss what they watched.
Throughout the day, someone dressed up as the grim reaper appeared in classrooms and called students out. A total of 15 students were chosen to represent the amount of people that die from drunk driving-related crashes during the time span of a school day. Those 15 students walked out onto the gym floor with candles in hand. As their names were called, along with their birthdate and death date, they blew out their candles and took a seat.
As the program went on, Reynolds explained the importance of the scene the students witnessed. As a registered nurse, Reynolds has seen the side effects of alcohol and poor decision making first hand.
In closing, she showed a photo of a young man named Jason. She described him as a practical joker and a loving son and brother. He was engaged to be married on June 11, 2005. On his way home from work on June 10, 2005, Jason was hit head-on by a drunk driver and died instantly. The driver had a blood alcohol level of .38.
Jason was Reynold’s younger brother.
“I share my story in hopes of preventing other families the pain my family and I have endured since losing Jason to someone that exhibited poor judgment by drinking and driving,” she said. “I hope Jason’s story touches just one student and makes them decide against drinking and driving.”
Students were also reminded that driving drunk is not the only type of distracted driving that is dangerous. Texting and driving or talking on the phone while behind the wheel, should also be avoided.
NARMC EMS rotates this program each year to surrounding high schools in hopes that students will make good decisions in the future. Organizers hope that offering the program during prom and graduation season will decrease the chances alcohol-related accidents after those events.
NARMC EMS would like to thank the following participants for making the Alpena High School Ghost-Out possible:
Alpena High School
Alpena Police Department
Alpena Fire Department
Arkansas State Police
Roller-Christenson Funeral Home
Boone County Sheriff’s Department