By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Escambia County High School students got a reality check last Thursday, March 30, as they counted down the hours until their prom.
“Prom Promises,” a special program headed up by Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) and conducted by several public and private safety entities, gave the students a chilling prelude to the formal party, which was held last Friday, March 31, accenting how a night of fun can quickly turn tragic.
Local first responders created a simulated two-vehicle crash, with a fatality, and staged an emergency response that drove home the dangers and the possible results of drunk or buzzed driving.
“Prom Promises, like the one held at Escambia County High School, are so important for our agencies to participate in together, due to the fact we are … responsible for making the next-of-kin notifications when they do not make it back home,” explained ALEA Senior Trooper Anna Peoples. “What we would like to accomplish with this type of program is awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, as well as the consequences.”
Atmore Fire Department Lt. Danny White narrated the program, setting up the next step in the scenario and explaining the ramifications and consequences of each step.
The storyline was that of a student driving home from a prom after-party while still under the influence of alcohol, who crashed into the vehicle of a Walmart employee who was going home from work.
The demonstration included responses from Atmore Police Department officers who were first on the scene, Atmore Fire Department rescue personnel who cut the victims from the vehicles, an ambulance from Medstar Emergency Medical Services to treat the injured, and Alabama State Troopers, who conducted the crash investigation and were responsible for making the death notification to the family of the person who was killed.
The county coroner’s office was also involved in the life’s lesson, as were the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, Poarch Creek Indian Tribal Police, Mayberry Funeral Home, and Castillo’s Towing & Recovery, which provided the wrecked vehicles for the simulation.
At the end of the thought-provoking program, students recited a pledge to not use alcohol or other drugs on prom night, to never drive under the influence or ride with an impaired driver at any time, and to always wear a seat belt. There was a separate pledge not to text and drive.
Peoples said the program, which drives its point home well, is one of her favorites among the many demonstrations of which she and other state troopers are a part.
“For everything you do, there is a consequence to your actions,” she said. “Prom Promises raises awareness among teens of the harmful effects of drinking and driving. I am always honored to be a part of these programs and hope they continue in the area every year.”
Link to photo gallery below: