Crash shows reality of drinking, driving
April 20, 2007
At 7 p.m. Monday, UW-River Falls students, faculty and the community watched as their peers were pulled from a car wreck on Third Street by North Hall.
Crash on Cascade is a mock car crash designed to demonstrate the results of driving under the influence of alcohol.
The River Falls Police Department, Fire Department and emergency medical services (EMS) worked together to ensure the safety of the accident victims.
The intensity of the accident scene was high, but the air smelled of ketchup and frozen fruit bars.
The ketchup was used for fake blood effects on the vehicles while the fruit bars were a reward to sorority members for participating. Greek fraternities and sororities made up most of the audience with a few other students and local residents sprinkled in the crowd.
Amanda Krier is a UWRF junior and the president of the organization, Changing the Attitudes of Students, Choices, Actions and Decisions Everyday (CASCADE). “CASCADE was formed last spring and has 25 students. The organization is a national peer education network that educates students to train others on health and wellness issues. Anyone can join CASCADE; the network is half Greek and half non-Greek,” according to UWRF Public Affairs.
Krier participated in the event last spring as one of the victims of the car crash; she was rescued from an overturned van by EMS workers and firefighters.
“We do it to show off that we have fabulous police and fire departments in River Falls,” Krier said. “And also what can happen when you mix drinking and driving.”
This is the second year CASCADE has worked to put on this production and the organization plans on making it an annual event, she said.
“We had about 200 people come to watch the car crash last time,” Krier said
Another accident victim from last year noticed the differences in this year’s event.
“Last year it took a lot longer to get the victims out of the vehicle,” Phi Mu fraternity member Lisa Stratton said. “It seemed more real with the coroner taking one of the victims away.”
Students should take it seriously and see it first hand instead of relying on statistics, she said.
Senior Kendra Knutson has never been to the mock car crash and recalls past events.
“It brings back memories of a previous car crash, and ambulances make me nervous,” Knutson said. “I think it is a good event to do because some college students think it’s okay to drive after a couple drinks; it’s a wake up call.”
Theta Chi member Arron Marker agrees with the benefits of watching the accident results.
“This is very educational,” he said. “It really shows what can happen when you drink and drive.”
Crash on Cascade started with two cars placed on the street to look like a serious, fatal accident.
One car contained five college students, including the drunk driver, and the other consisted of a few sober high school students. The cars are provided through Jerry’s Towing, located in River Falls, and are used as the props during the event’s simulation. Some students were “thrown” through the car windows while screams of pain poured from the other conscious victims. They were all covered with multiple wounds and blood to add a dramatic result.
Naomi Magner, a theatre minor at UWRF, played the “drunk driver” who was arrested and placed in a police car for the remainder of the event.
“When they took the tarp off it became real,” Magner said. “It hit home more than I thought it would, and was a good experience.” There were about a dozen firefighters and EMS members attending to the victims.
Four ambulances were on standby and a medical examiner was taking pictures and measurements of the crime scene.
“It was pretty close to the same as last year,” Dean Gerisak of the River Falls Fire Department said. “This is good practice for us and training for the new guys.”
The River Falls EMS was involved in the mock crash previously and were once again working in collaboration with CASCADE as part of Greek week.
“We want to bring awareness to accidents in general,” paramedic Bobby Moody said. “It could happen to anyone.”
People need to better understand how things happen in crashes because they happen a certain way on television, Moody said. It’s more realistic to see your own friends in the accident.