Trinity High School students got an up-close look at the consequences of impaired driving on Friday, as an all-day event simulated an impaired-driving crash involving teenagers on prom night — complete with actors depicting severe injuries that could occur.
The event, called a “Ghost Out,” was hosted by Owensboro Health with participating agencies including the Whitesville and Daviess County fire departments, Daviess County Sheriff’s Office, Air Evac flight ambulance, American Medical Response, Owensboro Health Regional Hospital Trauma Services, Cecil Funeral Home, and Cinderella’s Closet.
The simulated accident scene was set up in front of Trinity High School, where students watched how extrication and rescue efforts are carried out by first responders. The event was kept secret from the students so that they were surprised when walking outside, much like they would be in the event of a genuine tragedy.
The event aims to educate students on safe driving practices, particularly as they approach the end of the school year when there are big events such as prom and graduation.
“That’s usually when the teens are likely to get in their cars and drink alcohol or do some sort of substance abuse. So we think if we can get it right at prom and graduation kind of leaves the impression in their head,” said Kay Ewing with Owensboro Health’s Injury Prevention and Trauma Services.
Ewing said a recent study showed that Kentucky has the highest rates of teen driver deaths in the nation, with 5.79 annual deaths per 10,000 licensed drivers between 2011 and 2020. Ewing stressed the importance of educating teens on proper driving habits, such as driving sober and wearing seatbelts.
“The literature showed that 44% of the deaths that are caused in motor vehicle accidents for teens could have been prevented if they had their seatbelts on. I think that’s scary myself. We really started to push again for teens to have their seatbelts,” Ewing said.
Ewing said that hosting this simulation, while difficult, serves as a great example for the students.
“I think it’s so wonderful,” she said. “I wish we had done it when we were a teen and know what we know now.”
Following the presentation at the school, some students observed simulations from doctors in the trauma division at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital. The day ended with an assembly emphasizing the importance of driving unimpaired.