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April 16, 2012

SIU Med School to Hold ‘ThinkFirst’ Crash Reenactment Program in Paris

Junior and senior high school students at Paris Cooperative 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. Tuesday, April 17 at the Edgar County Fairgrounds, Illinois Highway 1N, Paris. All county-wide schools will also be invited.

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 Against Drunk Driving (SADD) students will portray crash victims. Some students will be dressed and made-up to appear as crash victims.

Emergency personnel normally summoned after a car crash like this occurs will simulate their tasks. Those assisting are the Paris Police and Fire Departments; Edgar County Ambulance Service, Sheriff’s Department and Coroner Pete Templeton; Edington’s Towing; Stewart and Carroll and Templeton Funeral Homes; AIR EVAC Lifeteam; ThinkFirst spokesperson Danny Hicks; and Illinois State Trooper Brian Ingram. Makeup for victims will be coordinated by SIU School of Medicine. PEN (Paris Educational Network), coordinated by Dan Dundas and Nathan Bell, will videotape the event and Steve Carle will provide the sound system.

“The purpose of the crash reenactment program is to show the real-life consequences of risk-taking behaviors,” says Mary Kay Reed, instructor of surgery at SIU School of Medicine and project director. “Students are capable or making intelligent decisions.” 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 happen to people between the ages of 15 and 24. “This year there will be more than 1,200 head injuries and more than 800 spinal injuries 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 may contact Mary Kay 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 is Sandi Johnson at Paris High School, phone 217/466-3050 or 217/822-4423. The rain date is Wednesday, April 18.