On Wed., Nov. 10, the Calgary Fire Department responded to a two-vehicle crash on the University of Calgary campus caused by drinking and driving. Firemen on the scene used the jaws of life to lift the roof off one vehicle to extract the trapped driver. The victim was carried away on a spine board to the stars helicopter. The driver of the other vehicle, which had rolled over onto its side, was not so lucky: he was pronounced dead on the scene.
Thankfully, the crash was only a simulation jointly organized by the U of C's Alcohol and Drug Awareness and Prevention Team, the Students' Union, Operation Red Nose and the Calgary Fire Department to visually illustrate the dangers of drinking and driving. Students' Union Vice-president Events Jared Lorenz said the lifelike situation was meant to create a lasting impact.
"It's a good, graphic demonstration of what happens when you get into an accident," said Lorenz. "It should hammer home the message... that it's important to take care on the road."
The demonstration took place on the south lawn of MacEwan Student Centre where two donated cars were damaged and placed in a common accident configuration. A live victim sat in one vehicle, while two firetrucks brought the emergency workers to the scene. The audience was led step-by-step through the extraction by a Calgary Fire Department representative.
Fourth-year Archaeology student Candice Stauffer, who watched the event, was more skeptical about the impact of the demonstration.
"I think it was a very excellent visual and a lot of university students might think twice on the road," said Stauffer. "It might promote good traffic safety, but I don't know if it will deter people from drinking and driving."
Organizer Keith Uthe from Campus Security agreed the demonstration may not affect everyone equally, but argued that reaching a few people is enough.
"If we can prevent one or two people from drinking and driving, maybe we can save a couple of lives," said Uthe.
This is the third time in four years a similar demonstration was held on campus. Organizers wanted to hold the event during Alcohol Awareness week (Oct. 18-22), but scheduling difficulties arose. They chose Nov. 10 because many students drive more during reading days and the upcoming holidays.
"We want to raise awareness coming into the Christmas season about drinking and driving," said Uthe.