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Plan B4 U Party message to teenagers from Eastern Waikato

Plan B4 U Party message to teenagers from Eastern Waikato authorities

Safety expo held in Thames last week

A chance to effect change amongst vulnerable teenagers was the driver behind a multi-agency safety expo held in Thames last week.

Known as the Drink Drive Die 2014 Expo, Eastern Waikato Road safety Co-ordinator, Ingrid Le Ferve, said the event that was held at the Thames Racecourse saw about 600 year 11 and 12 students attend.

"This was the third year the expo has been held at the racecourse and all the feedback we've had was this year's was the best yet.

"It's a collaborative effort organised by myself and Police School Community Officers. It also involves a large number of volunteers, up to 23 per day consisting of the Fire Service, St Johns Ambulance, Police and funeral directors."

Ms Le Ferve said the group's objective is to reduce serious and fatal crashes involving young people where alcohol/drugs and speed are contributing factors in Eastern Waikato communities.

"The expo's theme is "Plan B4 U Party" and our aim is to ensure our young people are educated on the dangers of drink driving, or getting into a car which is being driven by a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

"We rely heavily on the efforts of a group of students from the Students Against Drink Driving (SADD) team and the day starts with a dvd showing teens talking about themselves, their families, friends, what they enjoy doing and an upcoming party. The scenario then moves to a party where a group gets into a car being driven by a driver who has been drinking. The car crashes and the dvd ends, but then reality takes over."

As attending students move outside they encounter two crashed cars and fire engines, ambulances and Police arriving at the scene with lights and sirens going.

"The roles of victims in the crash are frighteningly well acted out by the SADD team. Four people are injured in the crash and the makeup that St Johns have applied to the team is soberingly realistic.

"One victim has gone through the car's windscreen and is lying across the bonnet. Fire-fighters start up the "Jaws of Life" to cut the roof off the car to allow the victims to be lifted out and St Johns staff deal with the injured passengers."

Police breath-test the driver who, after a struggle, is taken away for an evidential breath test. Finally, a funeral director takes the deceased person off the bonnet and drives them away in the hearse.

"Judging by the looks on the students' faces, it wasn't just the freezing wind that made their morning uncomfortable.

"Once the students return inside, emergency workers talk to them about their different roles and how it affects them. The SADD actors talk about how they found the experience and how surprised they were by how scary the scenario was for them, even though they knew they were in safe hands and how the noises of the machinery cutting them free of the car made them feel very vulnerable.

Ms Le Ferve said it wasn't just the students who gained benefit from the combined approach of the expo.

"Fire and ambulance staff found the week valuable as a training exercise and the overall message of "Plan B4 U Party" clearly got through to the students.

"The importance of having a parent or other adult to call on for a safe ride home is also vital. We all want our young people to be free from road trauma and education around safety is vital," she said.


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