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April 6, 2012

SIU Med School to Hold ‘ThinkFirst’ Crash Reenactment in Athens

Students at Athens High School will witness a mock crash reenactment presented in part by ThinkFirst, an injury prevention program offered by Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield. The reenactment will begin at 1 p.m. Friday, April 13 at the high school, 1 Warrior Way, Athens.

The outdoor event depicts what can happen when young drivers drink and drive or ride with distracted or impaired drivers. Wrecked vehicles will be on site, and local students will portray crash victims. Illinois State Police Trooper Shelley Hansen, Menard County Death Examiner Larry Hollis, and teacher Abby Curry will be the presenters and explain the dangers of texting and driving, zero tolerance for alcohol consumption and safety during prom and graduation activities.  

Emergency personnel normally summoned after a car crash will simulate their tasks. Those assisting are Athens High School staff, Athens Fire and Police Departments, Menard County EMS, Illinois State Police and Secretary of State’s Office, and Matt & Henning Funeral Home. Auto Recyclers in Athens will donate vehicles and towing. Subway is donating lunch for student actors.       

“The purpose of the crash reenactment program is to show the real-life consequences of risk-taking behaviors,” said Mary Kay Reed, instructor of surgery at SIU School of Medicine and project director. “Students are capable of making intelligent decisions. This event illustrates the consequences that can follow when bad decisions are made.” This local program is a chapter of the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation. ThinkFirst is presented as a public service at no cost to the school.

Each year, 430,000 brain and spinal cord injuries occur in the United States; one-third of those injured are between the ages of 15 and 24. “This year more than 1,200 brain injuries and more than 800 spinal injuries will occur in a 40-county area of central Illinois. The tragedy is most of these injuries are preventable,” explains Reed.

ThinkFirst is funded by SIU School of Medicine and by a federal grant provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation and administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation, Division of Traffic Safety. Those interested in the program are invited to contact Reed at SIU School of Medicine, P.O. Box 19679, Springfield, IL 62794-9679, 217-545-9112.

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Note to media: The local contact at the high school is Principal Mike Curry, 217-636-8314. There is no scheduled rain date.