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Every 15 Minutes Program Addresses Underage Alcohol Consumption & Consequences

Leland High School Participates in Trauma Prevention Program

San Jose, CA. On Wednesday, May 18, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center’s Trauma Services Program will participate in the Every 15 Minutes Program for Leland High School. As part of the program, SCVMC trauma services will conduct mock trauma resuscitations on two “trauma victims” brought into the Emergency Department.

Every 15 minutes is an injury prevention program addressing underage alcohol consumption and its consequences.

The mock victims are expected to arrive at approximately 11:00 am. The hospital will then begin its activation. Hospital departments have been instructed to respond as if there were an actual major trauma, as long as the response does not interfere with any patient care.

The Every 15 Minutes Program is a two-day program for high school juniors and seniors. It challenges students to think about drinking, driving, the responsibility of making mature decisions, and the impact those decisions have on their personal safety, family, friends, and others.

The program’s name was derived from the fact that in the 1990’s someone in the U.S. died in an alcohol-related traffic collision every 15 minutes. The implementation of state laws and community programs has reduced this statistic to every 30 minutes. A figure that is still unacceptable.

In 2000 SCVMC Trauma Service, local law enforcement, fire departments, pre-hospital care providers (AMR), the Santa Clara County Coroners Office, and a local mortuary formed the Santa Clara County Every 15 Minutes work group. The group partners with local high schools to implement Every 15 Minutes events. The program is funded by a California Office of Traffic Safety Grant administered by the CHP. Since its inception, SCVMC has actively participated in over 30 Every 15 Minute Program events.

SCVMC’s Role: On the day of the event, two victims are injured in a simulated alcohol involved motor vehicle crash and transported to SCVMC Trauma Center. Two major traumas are activated and the Trauma Team and Trauma Surgeon respond as they would for any major trauma activation. The Trauma Team simulates the trauma resuscitations for two severely injured victims. Unfortunately, the victim’s injuries are not survivable and both victims die. During this time, the victims’ families arrive at the ED. The families participate in a simulated death notification and are assisted by Social Services and the Trauma Team. They visit their family member in the trauma room before leaving the hospital.

Emergency Department and ICU nurses volunteer their time to support the retreat portion of the program. Nurses share their experiences of caring for victims and families of alcohol related crashes with the students and support retreat activities that equip the students with strategies to make mature decisions about underage drinking and driving.

Events are usually scheduled to precede Proms and Graduation at a time when teen alcohol consumption is known to increase.

Event Details:

On Day One: One student is removed from class by the Grim Reaper, every fifteen minutes and becomes one of the “living dead”, representing those that die in alcohol-involved motor vehicle crashes. A uniformed police officer and counselor enter the classroom and read the student’s obituary. Simultaneously, an officer and chaplain inform the parents of the “living dead” of their child’s “death.” A tombstone in placed on the high school campus for each “living dead” student. A simulated drunk driving crash involving pre-selected students is staged on school grounds and attended by the entire junior and senior student body.

The motor vehicle crash begins with a recorded 911 call, which activates an EMS response from law enforcement, fire, paramedics and coroner. Fire fighters extricate victims; paramedics provide medical care and take the two injured victims to SCVMC Trauma Center. These victims are pronounced “dead” at the hospital. Trauma Surgeon and Social Services staff inform the parents of their child’s “death.” A third victim is pronounced “dead” at the scene by the coroner and taken to the morgue. The family is summoned to the morgue to identify the body. A fourth student, designated as a drunk driver, is given a field sobriety test and arrested for driving under the influence. The offender is taken to jail, booked, placed in a holding cell and allowed to call a parent. Once the students become a member of the living dead, they are not allowed to make contact with family or friends. At the end of the day, adult volunteers and all involved students are taken to an overnight retreat. At the retreat students participate in team building and learn first hand from victims affected by alcohol related crashes. Students then write a letter to their loved ones expressing the thoughts they would want to convey had they been killed that day. Parents of the living dead gather at a retreat to write letters to their children expressing how they have been affected by the “death” of their child.

Day Two: The student body assembles along with the living dead and their parents, and members of the professional community involved in staging the event. A funeral procession consisting of bagpipe players, casket with pallbearers, and involved community professionals enters the assembly. The assembly views a video of the previous day’s activities. Some of the living dead share their letters with the audience and relate how it felt to die without having a chance to say goodbye. Parents read their letters about the loss of a child. The community professionals explain how they are personally affected by witnessing the devastating effects, on a daily basis, of poor choices involving alcohol. At the end of a two-hour “emotional roller coaster” participants are usually overwhelmed with emotion and gain a new sense of love and commitment to one another and commit to making responsible choices.

Note to News Media Organizations: If you are interested in covering the Every 15 Program at either SCVMC or Leland High School, please contact Eileen Hoover to confirm your attendance in advance. You can also contact Joy Alexiou for assistance at 408.885.4164.


Media Contact: Joy Alexiou, Public Information Officer, Health and Hospital System (408)885-4164; Eileen Hoover, 408-885-2211, Assistant Trauma Program Manager
Posted: May 18, 2011