Everything spins, in a flash of light and crunching metal you have no time to react. When you open your eyes and feel the pain the only noise you can make is a scream.
It may not be the same for everyone but many stories of car crashes follow this narrative. Even though it may have been a controlled scene, for Rebecca Hingley, who spent last Thursday morning in a crushed up car reenacting a crash scene for Safe Grad Week, the fear was all too real.
“I was kind of scared,” she shared her thoughts beforehand. “I watched it last year, I knew there was a lot of scary sounds.”
Hingley, a Grade 10 student, was posing as a crash victim of someone who was impaired with drugs and had been driving. In the back seat of the car, she had to sit and wait for the sirens to come racing up the driveway and into the back parking lot of North Nova Education Centre where the Grade 12 class stood watching.
“I was really scared, I was just sitting there trying to get into character and I started thinking ‘what if this actually happened to me?’ and I started shaking,” she said. As firefighters rushed out of the truck and police officers assessed the scene, she continued to wait. Firefighters helped extract the driver from the car and took her away for medical treatment while another firefighter got in the back seat with Hingley.
“There was a tarp over my head,” she said about the thick plastic that covered her head and the firefighter beside her. The purpose of the tarp is to shield the passengers and helpers from debris and pieces flying off the car as first responders work to cut the victim out of the car. Hingley added that she was told not to move her head much and that if that was a real scenario there would also be a medic on her other side taking her vitals and continuously making sure she was okay.
“I jumped every time,” she said about the loud crunch of the Jaws of Life as they tore through metal to take the roof off. “I was given warnings, but it was scary.”
Firefighters told her that in a real accident that there is usually more movement and, unlike Hingley and her fellow actors, there is a lot of screaming and panic from the victims.
“When they were pulling the roof off that was probably the scariest thing,” she said. “Because it moves down before it moves up.”
“The consequences (of impaired driving) are more than just monetary and fines,” said community policing officer Const. Ken MacDonald of the New Glasgow Regional Police. MacDonald, the police force and a few different fire departments along with MADD Pictou County host the Safe Grad event every year to demonstrate the horrors that really come from a quick decision to sit behind the wheel impaired.
“It’s for folks that are graduating to make a safe and responsible decision,” he said. Whether the driver is impaired by alcohol, drugs or fatigue, they should think about driving.
“The situation is awful, I think this happens more than people talk about,” Hingley said. “I just … wow”
“Don’t do it, oh my gosh…” she said nearly speechless about what to say to others about the experience. “You don’t fully get the impact until you’re in it. People don’t think it will happen to them, then it does.”