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Telecom meets the Grim Reaper
NNPS-TV's Telecom students combined forces with the Communications team from Woodside High (the Communications magnet school) to produce a DVD highlighting the powerful educational experience called "Every 15 Minutes." The national program revolves around a simulated tragic event: a fatal automobile accident caused by a student driving while impaired.

Grim Reaper and victim

A Telecom student video-records the "Grim Reaper" and the "victim."
Photos by: Annjela Nelson

"Every 15 Minutes" was held at Heritage High School April 27-28, and produced and edited for DVD. The DVD was played at the school assembly on the second day of the program after an all-night editing session at the Telecommunications Center. Copies were distributed to the students and community partners who took an active role in the simulation.

According to their website, "Every 15 Minutes" is "an event designed to dramatically instill teenagers with the potentially dangerous consequences of drinking alcohol or texting while driving. This powerful program will challenge students to think about drinking, texting while driving, personal safety, and the responsibility of making mature decisions when lives are involved."

Organized locally by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, the event requires coordination among police, fire, Medevac, hospital and other personnel.

Telecom and Woodside students video-recorded the "Grim Reaper" selecting students from class; the aftermath of the horrific staged auto crash and response by rescue personnel; the arrest of the impaired driver; the scene at the hospital, courthouse, jail and morgue; and the police making a death notification to the parents of a "deceased" student.

The simulation is extremely graphic and emotional. Student actors involved in the accident depart by police car, ambulance, helicopter and hearse.

The goal of the program is to encourage students to think about the consequences of drinking and driving in the days leading up to prom and graduation.

In addition to NNPS-TV, community partners that played a part in the program are: the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Riverside Regional Trauma Center, Newport News Sheriff’s Office, Newport News Police Department, Newport News Fire Department, Newport News Public Schools, Peninsula Funeral Home, LifeEvac Virginia, David’s Towing Service, and the Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association.

According to a letter from the Every 15 Minutes Task Force Committee, "since the program’s inception nationwide, the statistic of 'somewhere in the U.S., someone dies of an alcohol related accident once every 15 minutes' has improved to once every 37 minutes (NHTSA 2005)."

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