On 01.02.02, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Too late for surgery, I had chemotherapy, which failed. In May the chemotherapy was changed and I was soon in remission which was celebrated and welcome and lasted nine years - until October 2011. There was progression in 2011 so more treatment was indicated and I am now back in partial remission. But I'm not only a cancer patient - I also enjoy my family, walk my dogs and am learning to draw and paint. Life is good!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Every 15 minutes

No, it's not my wreck.  Every other year Steve participates in Every 15 Minutes, a program for junior and senior high school students to dramatize the risk of alcohol and driving because, in the United States, there is an alcohol related driving death every 15 minutes.

The program is graphic - but reaching high schoolers seems to demand that.  In this scenario, the observers (you can see them on the bleachers behind the [staged] wrecked cars) watch a classmate declared dead by the county coroner and see her placed in a body bag and taken to the morgue.  Her parents are then notified by an officer and a volunteer chaplain (maybe Steve) who knock on their door and relate the news.  The parents go to the morgue and unzip their "dead"  daughter, see her injuries and identify her.  She does not return home that night.

Other students are air-lifted to a trauma center where cooperating medical staff assess the injuries and the parents are notified.  The teen driver, who was drinking, is arrested, booked into the county jail and goes before a real court judge.  All of the visits, court, identifications, hospitalizations are filmed by a video crew.

The "wreck" was yesterday.  Every 15 minutes a student was called out of class by the Grim Reaper.  Ten students left and did not return to their homes last night.

The "funerals" were held this morning in the high school gymnasium.  The video of the other scenes were shown to the students and the victims were reunited with their parents.  Last night there was a dinner and support for the parents - for some of them this was all too real - and the deceased stayed overnight in an unidentified location.

Here in Sonoma County we have a lot of DUIs and alcohol related fatalities.  It's Wine Country, after all, and that's one downside of living here.  The Every 15 Minutes program is extremely expensive to put on and requires months of meetings and organization.  Is it useful?  Apparently, for some it is.  The kids are subdued when exposed to the realities of such events and parents, for sure, are often moved to tears at the possibility of losing a child in such a preventable way.

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