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Emergency responders simulate, discuss results of reckless driving

Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center’s trauma prevention program gives teens a close-up look at some of the consequences of reckless driving.

The program took a dozen teens to different stations around the hospital, 3186 S. Maryland Parkway, where they heard from nurses, police officers and others who see the grim results of drunken driving.

This particular program began May 26 in the hospital’s auditorium, where participants watched a presentation about Sean Larimer, a local teen who, in 2003, drank, drove and crashed into a brick wall, killing three of his friends. It happened two months after his 16th birthday.

Jeanne Cosgrove, a registered nurse at the hospital, started the program about three years ago and said she modeled it after the Every 15 Minutes program. It’s different, she said, because it brings kids into the hospital to enhance the experience. Every 15 Minutes is a two-day program for high school juniors and seniors that challenges them to think about drinking, driving and making mature decisions.

Cosgrove hosts the trauma prevention program three times a year at the most dangerous times —- before school starts in August, between semesters in December or January and before graduation.

Henderson police officer Seth VanBeveren then explained a typical driving under the influence arrest.

He offered youths a chance to try a field sobriety test while wearing goggles that simulated drunkenness at a blood alcohol concentration level of about .15. The legal limit in Nevada is .08.

Standing on one leg and counting sounded easy enough to 10-year-old Trace Otero, but with the drunk goggles on, he failed with flying colors.

Others tried walking nine steps in a straight line, one foot in front of the other. Arms waved wildly for balance, and sober kids nearly fell over before VanBeveren caught them.

He sees these results all the time in the field, he said . They’re not only too drunk to drive but sometimes too drunk to stand.

“You set an example for your friends,” he told attendees.

They were offered the experience of wearing casts and neck braces and trying to open doors while in a wheelchair.

Mike Otero, a Logandale resident, brought his three kids, Trace, 10, Chance, 15, and Malissa, 16, to the event.

Otero is a captain for the volunteer fire department in his town and has plenty of experience with these kinds of tragedies.

“I see people who drink and drive and crash,” Otero said. “I wanted to show (my kids) things I couldn’t show them on the scene.”

Otero said he tells his kids about some of the grim scenes he encounters at accident sites, hoping they will make better choices. A big part of the program is getting the information to youths before they turn 16.

Nevada Highway patrolman Joseph Fackrel spoke about vehicle safety, specifically the importance of wearing seatbelts, while standing next to a crushed car that had been towed into the hospital’s parking lot. More than half of the deaths in car accidents in 2010 were a result of not wearing seatbelts, he said.

MedicWest Ambulance emergency medical technicians also were on site and wheeled 19-year-old UNLV student Milena DiFiore into an ambulance for everyone to see.

DiFiore, who lost a high school friend who was a passenger in a car while a drunken driver was at the wheel, volunteered to help with the program.

“This is what’s important,” said DiFiore, who played an accident victim during the hospital program. “Everyone needs to see this. I think it could be helpful to a lot of students if they see it before they get their license.”

The group moved to a trauma station in the hospital, and a nurse asked for a volunteer to lie on the hospital stretcher.

Alyssa Snider, 13, lay still while a nurse walked everyone through typical medical procedures for a crash victim with a collapsed lung, a broken femur and internal bleeding.

Students ultimately packed into the tiny room, where family members are given the horrible news of a loved one’s death.

Cosgrove plans to host the program again at the hospital before school starts in August. For more information, visit sunrisehospital.com.

Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at jmosier@viewnews.com or 224-5524.

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