(Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)
Members of the Leachville Police Department, Leachville Fire Department, First Responders, Medic One Ambulance Service, Emerson Ambulance Service and other volunteers held three mock wrecks at Buffalo Island Central East and junior high campus on Thursday.
The first was a mild scenario of a wreck attended by pre-kindergarten through third grade students. The focus was on wearing seat belts, making 911 calls, and looking both ways when crossing the streets. It also stressed fire fighters, first responders and police officers are their friends.
Leachville Police Chief Keith Evans told the children seat belts will keep them from hitting the dash or going through the windshield if they are in a vehicle wreck. He also reminded the children to be careful when riding bicycles.
"Always stop at stop signs when riding your bicycles," Evans said. "You need to look out for the cars."
He also reminded them 4-wheelers should not be ridden on the streets and they must have an adult 16 or over riding with them.
Principal Shirley Cato thanked the officers for their time and reminded the students these people are their friends.
"They are here to help you," Cato said.
The fourth through sixth grade students attended an enactment of a vehicle/bicycle accident. First Responders, ambulances, firemen and police officers responded.
Again, Chief Evans stressed the importance of bicycle safety.
"I have watched many of you riding your bicycles around town," Evans said. "Some of you do not pay attention to stop signs or other safety rules. I have also had complains about 4-wheelers in town. Bicycles and 4-wheelers do not match up with cars and trucks. I know 4-wheelers are fun to ride but you must be careful."
Evans told them if they are under 16 they must have a helmet and they should never have three or four riders on one 4-wheeler.
Evans introduced the group to Leachville's First Responders, fire fighters, ambulance drivers, and police officers.
Leachville's First Responders include Keith Evans, Mark Johnson, Teresa Johnson, Richie Pace, Steve Lancaster, Sherman Deeds, Ralph Barton, Todd Thompson and Amy Lambert. Several also serve on the police department and the fire department. Assisting with the enactment were members of Medic One staff Chad Timms, Gary Fortson and Sam Shinault and Emerson Buffalo Island staff Jacob Faries and Kristian Nuckles.
"We want you safe," he said. "Bicycles have rules to follow just like cars."
The enactments were coordinated by First Responder Todd Thompson.
"I heard about the mock wrecks held in other schools and I thought it could be beneficial to our young people in Leachville," Thompson said. "I could not have done it without all of the volunteers. I appreciate Emerson and Medic One and Medic One Helicopter for helping making it successful. If it serves as a reminder to just one young person, it is all worth it."
The junior high students attended a more graphic enactment of a fatal wreck where alcohol was involved seeing one of their fellow students put in a body bag, one airlifted by helicopter, and others by ambulance, one driver handcuffed and the reaction of a mother arriving at the scene.
The junior high students gathered in the gymnasium following the enactment. Leachville Mayor Sheila Spurlock thanked everyone for their attention thanking the participants and volunteers.
Chief Evans told the young people his stepdaughter had been involved in a wreck.
"I've worked a lot of them and there is nothing good about drinking/drugs and driving. There is no easy way to tell parents their children have been involved in a wreck."
Evans introduced the guest speaker Tammy Puckett, a victim of a drunk driving accident.
"The enactment showed you what can happen," Puckett said. "What it could not show you is the fear one feels or the impact it has on a person and the family."
Puckett shared her story of her accident in 1997 when her vehicle was hit. She said the driver of the other car had been drinking.
"My leg bone was through the back of my body," she said. "I was trapped in the car wondering how long it would take to get me out of the car and wondering if I would make it. It took five hours to get me out and get me to the hospital."
She told of the surgeries and effects she still suffers even after 10 years.
"I'm proud to be a survivor but I still live with fear," she said. "I hope each of you make good decisions and do not drink but if you, please do not drive. Everyone here has someone who loves them. Call them and have them come get you. The decisions you make can change people's lives forever. The man who hit me said he had only had five beers and he was only going two miles."
Sherman Deeds, First Responder, talked to the young people about making the right decisions.
"Sometimes alcohol is involved in wrecks and sometimes it is not," he said. "When you get your drivers license and start driving be careful."
He encouraged them to pay attention.
"Only you can stop it," he said. "It is your decisions but please don't drink and drive."
Randy Rose, junior high principal, thanked everyone for taking part in the enactment.
"Driving is a big deal to you guys," Rose said. "There is a reason you have to take a test. There is a reason your parents insurance goes up when you start driving. It is because many times young people do not make good decisions. I hope you all make the right decisions."