Mock crash moves Houlton students

This story was published on May 14, 2007 on Page B3 in edition 1 of the Bangor Daily News

HOULTON – The lesson learned as part of the Every 15 Minutes program was a tough one, but it was communicated successfully, SAD 29 officials said.

During a school board meeting last week, Houlton High School Principal Marty Bouchard told the panel that high school students were moved by the Every 15 Minutes program, which recently took place at the school.

The event is geared toward high school students and re-creates a lethal drunken-driving accident involving teens. The program is designed to illustrate the potentially dangerous consequences of drinking alcohol and driving.

In Houlton, two students were “killed” as a result of the simulated accident, and a high school senior who played the role of the drunken driver was arrested by officers from the Houlton Police Department and “sentenced” to a significant prison term for manslaughter and aggravated operating under the influence.

Students from the school crowded onto the sidewalks and watched as emergency personnel worked the scene of the May 2 “accident” on Randall Street, which is an entrance and exit that students use to access the high school campus.

Rescue crews from the Houlton Fire and Ambulance Department wrenched open the vehicles to free the victims. Two ambulances then took all of the survivors to Houlton Regional Hospital, and Bowers Funeral Home came in a hearse to take one of the students who “died” at the crash scene to the funeral home.

A mock funeral involving the dead students also was held at the school May 3.

It was the first time Houlton conducted the program, which was part of a collaborative effort among the Darcie C. Hutchinson Foundation, the Link for Hope Coalition and SAD 29.

Twenty high school students had key roles in the simulation, Bouchard told the board.

“The feedback that we’ve received has been really good,” he said during the meeting. “Everything I’ve heard has been tremendous. The kids said that it impacted

them, that it was hard to watch but it made them think.”

Board member Glenn Miller, who also serves as a firefighter-EMT with the Fire and Ambulance Departments, participated in the exercise. He agreed the event was a success and lauded the students who played roles in the simulation.

“The students involved did a fantastic job,” he said. “It made our job a little easier, because a lot of times people don’t take this seriously. The kids did take it seriously.”

Bouchard said the district hopes to put on the program approximately once every three years.