By COLLIN BROOKS
The horrors of the what if’s on prom night are sometimes unimaginable, but Washington County/Johnson City EMT Brandon Archer and his team of helpers are trying to recreate those scenes so they won’t have to see them on one of their calls.
That is what they will do at the Prom Promise event that will take place on Friday, April 8, at Ridgeview Elementary School. This will mark the first year that a county-wide event will be held, as seniors from David Crockett and juniors and seniors from Daniel Boone will see the mock car crash and also have the chance to explore other vendors. They will also get a free lunch as multiple pizza vendors have agreed to provide slices for the estimated 800 kids.
However, they may not have much of an appetite after they see real-life scenario of what can happen if a motor vehicle operator drives drunk or distracted.
“We try to make it as realistic as we can, without actually having the kids involved in a wreck,” Archer said.
Being a Washington County/Johnson City paramedic is where Archer and his team get all the ideas for the wrecks.
“It is all stuff that we have seen before,” Archer said about the staged scene. “We aren’t just pulling stuff out of thin air.”
Archer and his friend Luke Story, who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on January 24, 2015, set out to bring awareness to the things that can happen if people aren’t responsible behind the wheel.
This year the mock car wreck will start at 10 a.m. and all of the emergency crews will roll in, just like they would a real scene, including the medical helicopter Wings. Even the gore and blood are on hand as the cosmetic departments at each school dress the mock patients up to par.
This will be the second event since Story lost his battle with cancer and while it is tough not to have his friend there, Archer knows that Story would have wanted the Prom Promise to go on, in hopes of saving someone else’s life.
“Last year was the first one without Luke, and it was really special, he and I actually planned it when he was in the hospital and it just so happened that two days after we planned it, he passed away,” Archer said. “Everyone of these that we are going to do, it’s going to have a piece of Luke in it. He and I are the ones that started it, so every year he is going to be involved.”
Working in the medical field, the two friends were all too familiar with seeing the horrific scenes that were caused by drunk and distracted drivers. The Prom Promise is a pledge to not use alcohol or drugs.
The AAA Teen Survey on AAA PROMise issues was conducted in January and February of 2015. Nearly 1500 teens ages 16 to 19 who recently graduated or are currently attending high school were surveyed in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
From that survey they found out that 31 percent of high school teens report it is likely that they or their friends will be under the influence of drugs or alcohol sometime during prom or graduation season. Another statistic said that 87 percent of teens believe their peers are likely to drive impaired instead of calling their parent or guardian for help because they are afraid of getting in trouble.
With numbers like those, Archer and his crew have had one goal in mind since they started.
“We had the mindset that if we could change one mind, then this would be a success,” Archer said. “That is our goal each year, is to change people’s minds.”