This is a news release from the Jones County Fire Council.
Once a year, just before graduation, Northeast Jones High School seniors and juniors have the opportunity to watch and learn about the impacts inflicted on the lives of young people when drinking and driving distracted, especially during a time of celebration such as graduation.
The event is held on high school grounds at the football stadium and encompasses the support and participation from several Jones County and Mississippi emergency services, including five of the Jones County Volunteer Fire Departments (Glade, M&M, Powers, Rustin and Sandersville), Jones County Sheriff's Department, EMServ Ambulance Service, Jones County Coroner's Officer, Jones County District Attorney's Office, Jones County Emergency Management, Memory Chapel Funeral Home, Mississippi Highway Patrol and Rescue 7 Air Ambulance. Northeast Jones High School faculty and students also participated in the event.
This year, two vehicles - a Dodge Charger and a pickup truck - simulated a head-on collision as a result of a drunk driver. Four Northeast Jones High School students played the roles of the four prom student victims.
During the simulation, emergency personnel extricated some of the students from the Dodge Charger, while Sheriff's deputies unleashed a K9 unit onto the fleeing drunk driver. To effectively convey the seriousness of these situations and the ensuing tragedy, one of the teenage victims was declared dead on arrival; he was ejected from the vehicle.
The other three students sustained injuries ranging from minor to critical, with one of the teens transported from the scene by the air ambulance. With actors playing the roles of frantic and devastated parents, one could hear the screams of a saddened mother in the background as the deceased teenager was taken to the hearse in a body bag, and the others were prepped for immediate transport to the hospital.
The football stadium stands held many students, as they watched the events unfold. A noticeable element experienced this year and years before is the change of attitude in the students watching the simulation.
Coming together with friends, particularly at school but not in class, can certainly be a fun distraction. And with all Prom Promise events throughout the years, the students have a tendency to talk and joke around initially.
But that moment when they see students their own age, possibly real life friends, being taken away in body bags or on stretchers, the reality of the tragedy that they are watching becomes emotional. Suddenly, an impact is made on the lives of each and every student in the stands.
The voices become silent and the only noise you hear are the extrication tools. With this silence, the assurance of knowing that these students were taking to heart everything they had seen and heard becomes evident.
Tragedies like the Prom Promise simulation are far too real. They impact the lives of so many young people and their families every day. Jones County is ranked number five in Mississippi for the most vehicular fatalities. It is our hope that with this simulation, these students will use caution during this time of celebration and stay safe so that their graduation is the first of many exciting and fun events to come.