An estimated 32% of fatal car crashes involve an intoxicated driver or pedestrian, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc, but sometimes numbers and statistics don’t accurately convey the harsh reality. One must witness the events first hand to truly understand the grave outcomes of drinking and driving. That’s the goal of the Shattered Dreams program, a two-day dramatization of an alcohol-related vehicle collision staged near a high school for the education of the students, complete with police and EMS response, mock fatalities, ER visits and the arrest of the drunk driver. This year, Memorial Hermann’s Trauma Prevention Team paired up with Pearland High School to demonstrate the deadly effects of distracted driving.
Every 15 minutes, a person loses their life due to a motor vehicle collision. To give the students a better understanding of this, the “Grim Reaper,” along with a state official, appeared at classrooms every 15 minutes announcing the “death” of a classmate. The student was then dismissed from class and returned later with their face painted white and dressed in black clothing. The student could not interact with the other classmates for the rest of the day, to allow students to recognize the serious effect of losing a classmate due to distracted or drunk driving.
The reenactment was meant to be as accurate as possible. The student body witnessed the accident scene where 2 partly demolished cars were staged to appear as if they had recently collided. Beer bottles were found in the floorboards of both cars. One student, a female, had been thrown through the windshield and lay face down on the ground, while the remaining teenagers from both cars stumbled around, trying to make sense of what just happened. Shortly afterward, an ambulance arrived, followed by several police cruisers. They assessed the damage and attempted to care for the students involved in the wreck. Memorial Hermann Life Flight landed a short distance away, loaded up one of the students on a stretcher, and flew to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center.
The female student was pronounced dead on the scene and a mock memorial service was held for her the next morning in a general assembly at the school.
After the event, some of the students visited Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center to learn about the trauma of motor collisions due to preventable causes such as distracted and drunk driving. Dr. Wong explained that last year over 1,200 people were admitted to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center alone due to motor vehicle collisions. Dr. Wong, an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, discussed the injuries that occur as a result of a crash and the lifelong consequences patients and their families face. Students then toured the hospital’s trauma units and heard additional testimonials from other trauma providers and families who had been personally affected by drunk or distracted driving.
Memorial Hermann’s Trauma Prevention Coordinators Kyler Godwin and Cary Cain expressed that Memorial Hermann’s participation was impactful to the visiting students. The Trauma Prevention Team coordinated with Surgeons, Chaplains, the Emergency Department, Neuro Trauma Intensive Care, Surgical Trauma Intensive Care, and Life Flight in addition to numerous Memorial Hermann volunteers and community members who shared their personal stories of how they have been affected by drunk and distracted driving. After hearing these touching experiences, many of the students remarked on how they would not drink and drive or text and drive.
Memorial Hermann Trauma Prevention has continued to participate with other area schools to educate students around the Houston area.