Annual DUI Enactment
Each year, just before the Senior Prom at Mercer Island High School, the Mercer Island Fire Department hosts a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) re-enactment for high school students.
The goal of this exercise is to change lives. Often tragedies are the outcome of a chain of events that was inititiated by one bad decision - the decision to get behind the wheel of a car after drinking. This exercise attempts to demonstrate the reality of those tragedies.
The DUI drill has been an annual event since 1987. The re-enactment consists of an accident scene demonstration, and an assembly. During the accident scene demonstration Sophmores and Seniors are excused from classes to attend this event.
As the students arrive to the viewing area in the rear parking lot of the High School, what they initially see are two vehicles covered by two large tarps. From beneath the tarps, smoke is billowing out. At the commencement of the demonstration, which is narrated by Mercer Island Fire Ken Knott, the tarps are removed and the students view the horror of an accident scene. This scene is intended to replicate two vehicles that have collided as a result of one driver driving under the influence. Both vehicles have 4 young students, a total of 8 victims. The victims from the re-enactment are students from the High School. The students have been moulaged to replicate real injuries and several of them will "die".
Each student who requests to participate in the re-enactment are asked to write a short paper on why they want to be a part of this event. Many are very insightful and candid. Often these young people grasp the severity of this topic.
One shared these thoughts, It's such a simple choice. To drive, or not to drive. You would think that with all the lectures we've heard that it would get into our heads. But I think that we need something physical to show us, not a lecture. That is why this assembly puts such an impact on the high schoolers.
Another shared, "I took part in the DUI assembly last year, and I must admit it had a great emotional and mental impact on me. Truthfully, at first I just wanted to be a part of it simply because I thought it looked very interesting, having attended the meeting the previous year. As I sat in the broken down car though, awash in fake red dye, staring into the traumatized and terrfied faces of my fellow actors, all of a sudden it became all so real to me. I was one of the critically hurt ones, and never before in my life was I so terrified and regretful."
And finally another said, "I believe that the DUI assembly here forced students not only to listen, but see the deadly costs of drinking and driving. Many kids laugh at the screaming and franticness of the whole scene, but they can't escape the action in front of them."
The final part of the demonstration is an assembly where several key speakers share thoughts from their professional experiences. Key speakers include a King County Superior Court Judge, a representative from the Insurance industry, firefighters and police officers, and Mike Buckingham - a former Washington State Trooper who was severaly burned as a result of a drunk driver who collided with his patrol vehicle.
The Mercer Island Fire Department is assisted in this demonstration by several key agencies and individuals. The Mercer Island Police Department , the Bellevue Fire Department, and Mike Buckingham. Without these key participants, this exercise would not occur.