Street Smart Presentation

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 2, 2010

South Panola senior Josepf Pope may have found more than he volunteered for at a “Street Smart” program January 29. Florida firefighter/paramedics Scott Neusch (left) and Chris Stocks used Pope to demonstrate the post-trauma treatment accident victims can expected when first responders arrive. The Panolian photo by John Howell

‘Street Smart’ presentation brings traumatic consequences to students

By John Howell Sr.

Students at North Delta School and South Panola High School heard two firefighter/paramedics from Florida describe the awful results of auto crashes last week.

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Scott Neusch and Chris Stocks brought operation “Street Smart” to the Batesville schools to graphically demonstrate the consequences of poor choices.

“We’re going to give you some very unique information from our perspective as fire fighters,” Neusch told South Panola freshmen and senior classes who had assembled in the gym to see the program.

The program was brought to Batesville schools for the second consecutive year by Mississippi Distributors, Inc. the Batesville-headquartered distributor of Anheuser-Busch products in a five-county area of northwest Mississippi.

“What we’re trying to do is build a community that is socially responsible with what it does with alcoholic beverages,” stated Fred Nosef, distributorship owner. “We want people to be aware of what it can do.”

The program was graphic. As icy rain poured outside, forcing school officials to shorten the school day and compress the usual 60-minute Street Smart program into 40 minutes, Neusch and Stocks projected onto the gymnasium wall, one-by-one, dozens of photos of auto crash victims, bloody, mauled and disfigured.

“This is what we find when we arrive on the scene,” Neusch said.

The people in the photos had four things in common, Neusch said. They had all been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, none were wearing seat belts, they were all between ages 12 and 24 and they were all dead.

Then Neusch asked for a show of hands of students who do not wear seat belts. An overwhelming majority raised their hands.

The firefighter/paramedic then addressed several excuses people often give for not wearing seatbelts.

• Back seat passenger? “Physics says you go up and over the head rest and hit the person in front of you,” Neusch said. He told about a crash which involved four people, two in front seats and two in the back. The back seat passengers had been unrestrained. Paramedics found the teeth of a back seat passenger imbedded in the back of the head of a front seat passenger, Neusch said.

• What if the car catches on fire and explodes? A car fire is usually a slow process, Neusch said. Then he showed a photo of a crash where the driver had been unrestrained and knocked unconscious. Unable to exit the vehicle, the driver died from smoke inhalation after an otherwise survivable crash.

• Big car or SUV? Neusch and Stocks had a photo for that also. The photo showed the shrouded body of the driver of a concrete truck who had been thrown from his vehicle during a rollover.

“You’re 25 times more likely to die if ejected during a rollover,” Neusch said. Some larger, heavier vehicles are more prone to rollovers, he added.

Then the firefighter/paramedics asked for a show of hands of students who knew someone who drinks and drives. Again, a majority of students raised their hands. Neusch and Stocks also reminded the students of their responsibilities when they reach the legal age to buy alcohol. “Once you turn 21, if you choose to drink be a responsible drinker,” Neusch said.

Neusch and Stocks brought SP senior volunteer Josepf Pope to the middle of the gym floor to emphasize the importance of making wise choices in the face of peer pressure advocating otherwise. Pope was agreeable and soon found himself strapped to a spine board while Stocks simulated, again graphically, the techniques paramedics employ to try to save victims of massive trauma — emergency tracheotomies, venous cutdowns — and the sharp and large-needled instruments involved.

Stocks told the over 500 students who attended that, in the face of the “that-stuff’s-not-going-to-happen-to-me” reaction of most members of his audiences, actuarial tables show that one of 100 people their age would die traumatic deaths.

Last year a couple of days after the program was presented at South Panola, one senior, recalling the graphic images projected onto the gym wall, buckled himself in as he got behind the wheel of his vehicle. His decision that had until then been the exception rather than the rule, may have saved his life shortly afterwards when his vehicle struck lose gravel and overturned, Xavier “X-Man” Lee later told his teacher, Jacquelyn Sergi, who recalled the incident last week.

Street Smart is presented by members of Stay Alive from Education (S.A.F.E), a non-profit organization created by firefighters/paramedics in Florida dedicated to reducing injuries and fatalities, according to its web site, www.streetsmartprogram.com. In addition to funding the local Street Smart visit, Mississippi Distributors Social Responsibility Administrator J. D. Nosef handled the logistics, said Mississippi Distributors representative Joe Azar, who attended Friday’s presentation along with representative Wayne Whitt.

“We know that programs like this are working now; it’s not uncool to bring a designated driver,” Azar said.