By Stephanie Malench
Over 1,000 students from 7 area high schools participated the in the CMC Rotary’s 2nd annual Metro East Teen Driver Safety Days at the Gateway Convention Center October 8-10th.
Two of the presentations that had the most impact with students, according to Collinsville Police Chief and CMC Rotary member Steve Evans were the Keynote address by Sarah Panzau Evans and Street Smart, a presentation by S.A.F.E.
Each morning Panzau Evans spoke to a new group of students about her experience in 2003 and how it has impacted her life and those around her for over 15 years. Her presentation, “It’s Just Not Worth It: Drinking and Driving” chronicles her choices leading up to her decision to get behind the wheel of her car early one August morning with a blood alcohol count nearly 4 times the legal limit.
Kyle Chambers, 15, attended with the rest of his sophomore class from Collinsville High School and found the keynote speech the most impactful because Panzau Evans “explained her perspective, her family’s, and others.”
Smaller groups would attend the Street Smart presentation by S.A.F.E. (Stay Alive From Education) during one of their class periods at the event. The S.A.F.E. Team, created in 1992 is rotating pairs from a group of 7 firefighter paramedics from the Miami, Dade County, FL.
The team for this presentation was Ronny Garcia and David Dittman. Garcia has been presenting this program for over 20 years and has been to every state and several overseas bases. He said that teens often don’t realize their choices impact others until they see the presentation.
The format for the interactive presentation involves two volunteers selected from the audience. Graphic videos are displayed behind the reenactment. Garcia said it is not uncommon for students to become violently ill during the presentation and asks those that feel lightheaded seek attention instead of getting up.
The volunteer who is the passenger in the car crash is dead on arrival. Most of the rest of the presentation focuses on every lifesaving option that are conducted on the driver (to no avail).
At the end of the presentation, it is revealed that the driver in another car is also killed due to the actions of the driver who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or distracted and the death notifications are given to all of the victims’ families.
Matthew Clark, also 15 of Collinsville High School, said the Street Smart presentation was most impactful for him because there were no filters about what was taking place after the accident. He said of the victims “I don’t want to be that person.”
The CMC Rotary is planning on making this an annual event. Schools interested in participating next year should contact Steve Evans at (618)301-4406 or [email protected]