On Wednesday, April 3, students from Fernie Secondary School witnessed a mock extrication and participated in an emergency room demonstration, which helped spread awareness about the dangers of impaired and distracted driving. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Mock extrication raises awareness at Fernie schools

Mock extrication exercise highlights driving dangers; fire department seeks new program organizer

Youth around the Elk Valley got a taste of the dangers of impaired and distracted driving during a mock extrication performed by the Fernie Fire Department, and BC Ambulance Service workers earlier this month.

On April 3, Fernie Secondary Students watched as firefighters worked to pry apart a car to get to a patient, who was extricated and transferred into the care of BC Ambulance Workers.

The students then underwent a series of workshops in the hospital, one of which took place in the emergency room.

From tending to a major bleed, examining x-rays, keeping a patient breathing, or sifting through vomit to identify drugs, students got a feel for what first responders go through during and after attending to the scene of an emergency.

First responders also spoke with the students about what it’s like to notify next-of-kin that their child has passed away and the emotions that come with that. In a small town, they said, this is especially difficult.

The workshops, led by Fernie Fire Department Lieutenant Tom Hopkins, took place over several weeks, in order to reach the entire Elk Valley and South Country.

“A lot of times they don’t know the consequences of texting and driving,” said Hopkins after the presentation.

“They get away with it, but they don’t understand people lose their licences, people kill people over that… how quick that would change your life.”

Hopkins explained that people age 16-25 are most likely to be involved in a motor-vehicle accident. More youth die than seniors. Close to 25,000 youth in North America have died due to drinking and driving.

This, Hopkins says, is far too many. It’s for these reasons and more that he holds these talks every year.

For 22 years Hopkins has been organizing these talks. But this year is his last, as the firefighter prepares to retire next year. He said it’s time for someone else to take over.

Anyone willing to take on the role of organizer for these programs can contact Hopkins at the Fernie Fire Department.

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