Safe Driving Awareness Month at Oroville Schools

Students look on as EMS Coordinator Debra Donahue explains to them the dangers of drunk driving and how difficult it is to get someone out of a wrecked car.Oroville EMS Volunteers perform standard stabilizing procedures on the test dummy named Charlotte.S

Students look on as EMS Coordinator Debra Donahue explains to them the dangers of drunk driving and how difficult it is to get someone out of a wrecked car.Oroville EMS Volunteers perform standard stabilizing procedures on the test dummy named Charlotte.S

OROVILLE – The Oroville High School Leadership Class, under the direction of Tony Kindred, successfully held a Safe Driving Awareness Month in January. After much organizing, calling and presenting, the students involved were able to reach out to students about driving safe and making our roads safer.

The idea of a Safety Awareness Month came from a series of questions: Do students take driving seriously? Do students think about safety first? Does every student wear their seatbelt when they get in a car? Does every student realize how important safe driving is? The answer to these questions was no. For the most part, students only hear about driving safe from their parents and the advice tends to go in one ear and out the other. The OHS Leadership classes decided to give their peers a wakeup call and educate them about safe driving.

The Safe Driving Campaign was organized into weekly themes. Distractions, Bad Weather, Choices and Drunk Driving were the themes the students chose because they felt they were the aspects of driving that students need to be more aware of. Each week had fun activities for all students to participate in so that they had fun and learned at the same time.

Week one was Distractions and the introduction to the student body about the Safe Driving Campaign. In the morning, statistics were stated over the loudspeaker that could be heard throughout the school at 8:30 a.m. Students were advised to remember the statistics all week and on Friday during lunch they played Jeopardy with the statistics they learned. Also, on Thursday ASB President Mariah Brown played a video at lunch featuring wrecked cars as a result of being distracted while driving. The video was eye opening for many students and it got their attention about how serious the Leadership Class was in preparing for the coming three weeks.

Bad Weather week was a little more difficult for the Leadership Class. At the time there was a lot of snow and wind but potential activities were limited. All the student organizers had to do was direct their fellow students’ attention towards any window in the school and say, “See that? Drive safe!” To make up for a lack of activities the Leadership Class put up posters around the school with driving tips for snow and ice. “The ice tips were helpful, especially because the school parking lot was really slippery,” said student Heather Galvan.

Along with putting up posters, to highlight Choices Week the Leadership Class invited the Oroville Fire Department to come to Oroville High School and show students all of the equipment they use when they respond to a car accident. Students had the opportunity to put on the heavy gear, sit in the fire truck and ask questions about car accidents from the firefighter’s point of view. The firefighters did an excellent job of explaining how terrible accidents can be and how difficult it is to operate the machinery instead of allowing the kids to think it was “really cool” or “awesome.” They made kids think and many students realized how horrible it would be to be trapped in a car and have to wait for the fire department to get you out.

Probably the most important week of Safe Driving Month was Drunk Driving Week. Many students have had an encounter with drunk driving or known someone affected by drunk driving so it was a sensitive topic. The Leadership Class really wanted to make this week memorable for students. Throughout the week they shared statistics with students about drunk driving and put up posters around the school.

On Thursday that week, the Oroville Fire Department returned to the school and demonstrated the “Jaws of Life” equipment on a wrecked car. Along with the Fire Department were Oroville Emergency Medical Services (EMS) volunteers with an ambulance. Among them was Debra Donahue, an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and coordinator for Oroville’s EMS District. She was a key part of the demonstration. Inside the crashed car there was a dummy named Charlotte who the Fire Department was cutting out of the car. While they worked on the car, Donahue had a megaphone and explained to students what they were doing and what they needed to do to get Charlotte out safely. She shared many statistics about drunken driving accidents and the people involved in them. After the Fire Department cut Charlotte out of the car the EMTs worked on her, showing students what they would do in a real situation including performing CPR, fitting a neck brace and many other steps needed to save a person’s life. There was an ambulance waiting to take Charlotte away and after she left EMT Donahue explained to the students that Charlotte did not survive the crash.

The next day, the Leadership Class organized a funeral in the Oroville High School Commons for Charlotte with the help of the Bergh Funeral Service. The funeral was conducted by senior Austianna Quick, a poem was read by senior Alex Egerton and the eulogy was read by senior Mariah Brown. While the funeral only lasted about 15 minutes, students were touched by the message that was shared. The Leadership Class placed a mirror in the casket and at the conclusion of the ceremony when students were dismissed by row to see Charlotte they saw their reflection instead. It was a message to students that if they aren’t careful and if they don’t make safe driving decisions they could end up in Charlotte’s shoes. Many students left the funeral with teary eyes and the funeral was talked about throughout the rest of the school day. One student said, “It was eerie seeing my face when I looked into the casket, but then I realized that it was a part of the message for the week and the funeral. That was a really good idea!”

Later in the day the Leadership Class held a conclusion assembly where they explained to students why they chose to have a Safe Driving Awareness month. They had students share how the mock accident and funeral affected them and what they learned throughout the month. They also had a final Jeopardy game with questions about Drunk Driving statistics and other statistics shared throughout the month. To top off the month students received memory wristbands to help remind them about what they learned throughout the month, stating “Think First. Drive Safe.”

Oroville High School, particularly the Oroville High School Leadership Classes, would like to thank the members of the community that helped make the Safe Driving campaign a success. That includes the Oroville Fire Department, the Oroville Ambulance and EMS volunteers, Blossom and Briars for the donation of flowers, J&M LLC for sponsoring the wristbands, Bergh Funeral Service, school Administrators Dr. Ernie Bartelson and Principal Steve Quick for allowing the awareness month to occur and parents and teachers who supported the Leadership Students in making the month a success.