My "mom emotions" were stirred up this week. It’s funny how differently we see the world once we become parents.
It all started when I covered an assignment last week for Upper Saucon Patch at .
As many of the local high schools have done over the years, the high school conducted a S.A.D.D. (Students Against Destructive Decisions) demonstration in the parking lot of the high school. It’s often done during prom season as a reminder to students to avoid drinking and driving.
An accident scene was staged involving two vehicles. Students volunteered to act as the injured and deceased. Parents even volunteered to demonstrate their role had the accident been real.
Typically it’s a basic demonstration where the high school student body witnesses the scene – damage done to vehicles, injuries to students – but on some occasions, the local emergency service teams also participate for a more dramatic impact.
Such was the case for this year’s S.A.D.D. event at the high school.
Once the students and staff were seated on a grassy area outside of the building, two school buses rolled away to reveal the “mock crash” scene. An SUV had apparently collided with a smaller vehicle.
The driver and passenger of the SUV sustained minor injuries and were first seen inspecting the damage they had done. But it was clear by the “injuries” (applied cosmetically to each of the four students in the car) and positions of their bodies that they were not OK.
The SUV driver had been drinking as was determined by the empty vodka bottle, which was eventually found by an Upper Saucon police officer.
A scene unfolded in front of the student body as they watched the emergency call go through to 9-1-1. All communications were conveyed through a speaker system in the parking lot so the students and teachers could listen in real time.
Police officers from Upper Saucon, Lower Milford and Coopersburg arrived on the scene. Every step of the process played out as EMS crews arrived, fire departments raced in with their sirens blaring, and the “Jaws of Life” was used to dismantle the immobilized vehicle to extract the injured.
Most surprising was the arrival of the MedEvac helicopter from Lehigh Valley Health Network, which had been called in to transport one of the student passengers back to the hospital.
It seemed so real; there were times I forgot it hadn’t actually happened.
They went as far as to have Stephens Funeral Home drive to the accident with a hearse and remove the ‘dead’ teen in a body bag.
Beyond that, the two students in the SUV were made to conduct detailed sobriety tests including balancing tests and exhaling into a breathalyzer.
One boy was handcuffed and taken to the Upper Saucon police station for booking. Later in the day, he and his family participated in hearing at Lehigh County Courthouse.
A funeral service was scheduled for the next morning to honor the young lady who was killed.
It seemed real. It was powerful. It was emotional.
As I stood there, trying to do my job with the camera, tears welled up in my eyes. As I looked around, students could be seen wiping tears from their own faces.
The most disturbing part to me was when the mother of the deceased girl was called to the scene.
The officer gently told her about her daughter's involvement in the accident. He asked her what she had been wearing, and if she could identify any jewelry. Ultimately, he asked her if she would view the body to confirm her daughter's identity.
For that moment, I was the mother. I felt the emotions. I felt the grief.
This mother did an amazing job of acting the part. She threw her hands in the air, fell to the ground and sobbed in anguish. This had me crying even more.
As parents, our children are the most important things in our lives. Our day-to-day responsibilities are focused on their well-being.
We must bathe them, feed them, teach them, love them and protect them. When they’re youngsters, it’s easy to be with them all the time. It’s easy to make sure they’re safe and cared for.
It’s all we do for years and years. Then one day, they’re on their own.
What hit me was the concept of them becoming so independent that they will face the dangers of peer pressure, drinking, drugs, and other negative behaviors.
For parents of young children, we know it will eventually happen, but to see a demonstration such as this, it took on a whole new meaning to me.
It is OUR job, OUR priority, and OUR duty to mold our kids into moral, conscientious adults. This is what we must do to make the difference.
Witnessing this S.A.D.D. event was a kick in the butt for me. Although my oldest son is only 9, there is no time too soon to discuss the dangers of bad habits such as drinking and drug use.
As much as I want to allow him to keep his innocence, I’d rather educate him and guide him into his pre-teens with the knowledge that will keep him alive.
I never want to be the mother who is called to the scene of an accident like that.
For a glimpse of what a SADD “Mock Crash” is like, take a look at this YouTube clip of a demonstration from Hershey High School. I warn you - the tears might start falling around the 20-minute mark.