IN the region of 1,600 secondary school students saw first-hand the devastating consequences of speeding and drink driving when a two-car collision, involving a fatality, was simulated in Limerick this week as part of the The Lifesaver Project.
Secondary school students from the county attended the hard-hitting demonstration in the South Court Hotel on Tuesday and were followed by their city counterparts this Wednesday.
The event, Garda Tony Miniter of the divisional traffic corp said, is now more important than ever, with the number of deaths on Limerick roads creeping back up this year.
“As of this week, there were 10 deaths so far this year in the Limerick garda division. There were six road deaths in 2013, and five in 2012. It’s an unfortunate increase. Ultimately, it is still a drop from 2009 when we had 23 deaths but unfortunately it is creeping back up again. To drive home something like The Lifesaver Project is now more important than ever.”
As of this Wednesday evening, over 32,000 people across Limerick city and county have witnessed The Lifesaver Project since 2006. “The idea of the whole project is to take the students through the consequences of drinking and driving, taking drugs and driving and speeding. If you do that, there are consequences,” said Keith Mullane, advance paramedic with the ambulance service in Limerick.
As part of the multi-agency initiative, members of the emergency services replicated a two-car collision, involving a fatality.
“We have local actors from Limerick Acting Society. There are two cars positioned outside - one on its roof. One actor plays the drunk driver who caused the crash and in the other car you might have a brother and sister - one of them is dead due to the impact, with a blanket put over them,” Keith explained. “The fourth actor is their mother who arrives on the scene asking ‘why are you not helping my son, is my daughter ok?’”
After the 20 minute visual display outside, the students then go into the conference room where there is an hour-long presentation featuring various road safety advertisements.
“We stand up and give a talk on our service. We tell them what it’s like to go to a serious crash, rather than just saying you should do this. The boys are all bravado to start off but by the end of it there is silence.
“You would continue to get feedback over the years. You meet people and they say ‘I remember a story you told about going out to a crash and that stayed with me’.”
A big aspect of the talk to the students is the ripple effect that a car crash has on the family and loved ones.
“If you are in a crash and kill somebody or seriously injure them, then it has destroyed their life, your life, their immediate family, your immediate family, your future,” said Keith. “Don’t think for one second that just because you are young this will never knock at your door - this can knock at anyone’s door which is what happened this week in County Limerick.”
Student Seamus Keating, 16, of Colaiste na Trocaire, Rathkeale said the reconstruction was “very shocking. It would really open your eyes to what an accident is really like and also what families have to go through after a loved one has been lost.”
The Lifesaver Project is a collaborative effort between Limerick City and County Council, An Garda Siochana, Limerick Fire Service, ambulance services and the HSE.