Emergency sirens will be heard in the immediate vicinity of Beardstown High School on Friday morning, but officials say it’s all part of an exercise.
At 10:00 am Friday, the Beardstown Fire and Ambulance Departments, in conjunction with multiple agencies and organizations will be conducting a mock vehicle accident in the west side parking lot of the school complex for the entire High School student body.
Beardstown Fire Chief Brandon Hager says his department was approached by the school to help facilitate the mock accident, which he says will be as realistic as possible to both show students the dangers of driving while drunk or distracted, while also serving as a training exercise for several area departments.
“We’re going to try and make it as realistic as possible. A local towing company is going to provide a car that we will set up and stage with the students involved in the accident in the car. Our Cass County Dispatch Center is going to be involved. They are going to make it seem like a real scenario. They are going to page us out for it and of course, we are going to be staged at our fire station.
So we will respond like we would any other accident with our firetrucks, ambulance, police department, sheriff’s department, and we will just go through the whole scenario including with the funeral home and removing a deceased victim.”
Students from the Beardstown High School drama club will be participating in the mock car accident as victims of the crash. Hager says the SIU School of Medicine is the main driving force behind the exercise. He says they provide funding and support for events like these including being involved in staging the accident scene and applying makeup to the actors portraying victims to make the accident seem as realistic as possible.
Hager says the exercise will also take time for several speakers including the father of one Beardstown student who was injured in a more recent alcohol-related accident. “When we have done them in the past, we like to do them around prom time and graduation time so it’s fresh in the kids’ minds that drinking and driving has repercussions to it.
Whether it’s loss of life or like in the case of a local student, he had broken some vertebrae in his back. So it kinda ended his sports career for the rest of high school and on into college. Because he consciously made that decision to one night go out drinking with some friends. He was in the vehicle with someone who was intoxicated as well”
Also speaking will be retired judge Bobby Hardwick who will speak on the legal repercussions of accidents like these, as well as staff from Colwell Memorial Home who will give insight into the costs and toll funeral arrangements can cost the victim’s family.
Hager says if the weather cooperates and they are available, an Area-Evac medical helicopter from Jacksonville will also participate and airlift a victim from the mock crash scene. He says school counselors will be on hand in the event a student is affected by the exercise and needs to talk.
The mock car accident will be in the west side parking lot at Beardstown High School at 10 am this Friday, April 29th. Hager asks the public to please be aware that you will hear sirens and that 15th street between State and Monroe will be closed to traffic for the duration of the event. He says the last thing anyone wants is for an actual accident to happen because a motorist was distracted by paying more attention to the event than the road in front of them.
Agencies participating in the mock accident scene this Friday include the Beardstown Fire and Ambulance Departments, Beardstown Police, Cass County Sheriff, Illinois State Police, Beardstown High School, Air-Evac, SIU School of Medicine, and Colwell Memorial Home