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Monday, April 18, 2016

PARTY Program promotes road safety to local grade nine students


Josh Davis
"What do you think is worse, a fine, or spending the rest of your life knowing you’re responsible for a friend’s death?”  - RCMP Corporal Jeff Feist
On Tuesday April 12 over 20 youth attended a Prevent Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth (PARTY) interactive seminar in Pincher Creek. The grade nine students started off the morning as Pincher Creek’s EMS/Fire Base, then moveD to the Pincher Creek Community Health Centre in the afternoon. First responders of all kinds, including firefighters, EMS, RCMP, and hospital workers volunteered their time to present on topics such as distracted driving, driving under the influence, and to demonstrate the tools and techniques they use when saving lives.
Andrea Klassen and Megan Heroux
PARTY Program coordinators Andrea Klassen and Megan Heroux served as organizers and supervisors for the event. They have done this in Pincher Creek, the Crowsnest Pass, Taber, and Fort Macleod.  They are both Health Promotion Facilitators for Alberta Health Services, and their columns appear here and in other publications on a regular basis.  "The PARTY program is a program that started at Sunnybrook Hospital in Ontario, and since then its spread across the world," said Heroux. "In Alberta we are a leading partner in the world, because we have many programs and the Calgary program was instrumental in the development of the program." She explained that the goal of the program was to encourage grade nine students to make smart decisions, and prevent deaths.

"How we got here is our medical officer of health Dr. Lena Derie Gillespie has expressed that there is a need out here," said Klassen. "She's helped us spearhead this, to bring the program to Pincher Creek."


Following introduction the students took turns at smart-risk interactive stations, fun activities which helped highlight the risks of distracted and impaired driving. There was a texting and driving station, where student attempted to manoeuvre a miniature vehicle while on their phone, drunk and concussion goggles, and a distracted driving station where students attempted to match shapes while saying the alphabet, skipping every second letter. Following this they watched The Last Text, a video on the lives lost to text messages while driving.

Marcella Bakker helps as Shelby Stokke and Eleanor Scherer demonstrate a rescue
Following this they passed off the presentation to EMS Kate Feist and firefighter Eleanor Scherer, who demonstrated the techniques use to break someone out of a vehicle. Scherer talked about the time taken to get ready and go to take a life, saying that if she’s woken up in the middle of the night, she first has to wake up, get to the station, get suited up, and get her gear ready before she can go. She also said that she has to mind her own road safety when on the way to an accident. “If I can’t get out there safely to help you guys, then I’m useless.” Scherer demonstrated the type of communication necessary when saving lives, talking about how she may have to ask personal questions, and that if somebody has died she eventually has to explain that to the survivors. They student then split off into two groups, with Feist demonstrating the equipment within an ambulance, and Scherer showing the students how first responders use spinal boards. Feist and Scherer stressed the importance of seatbelts in saving lives. “You might break a collarbone,” said Scherer. “But in a way I'm happy when I see that, because it means the seatbelt has done its job.”


After that Corporal Jeff Feist and Constable Rodney LeGrow of the RCMP came in to present on the topics of speeding and distracted or impaired driving. Corporal Feist said 28% of all collisions are a result of distracted driving, which hold a $287 fine and three demerits, and can in chronic cases result in car seizures, a $2000 fine, and up to six months in jail. He explained that while police are sometimes forced to be on the phone or the radio while on the way to accidents, they are held to a higher standard in the event of an accident. “Police can be exempt from the law when on the way to emergencies. And our lights and sirens don’t necessarily need to be on in those circumstances. But we are still responsible if anything happens.”

Corporal Feist and Constable LeGrow
Corporal Feist said there were 84 local impaired driving related charges in 2011 – 2012, resulting in 26 roadside suspensions, adding that the numbers remain fairly consistent year to year. He also spoke about train vs vehicle collisions, saying that it takes over a kilometer to stop a train going forty kilometers an hour. He also explained that the person on the tracks pays for any damages as well as the time the train is delayed. “You interrupt their train service, they have the right to bill you. It’s as simple as that.” The RCMP ended their presentation by talking about texting and driving. “Of course you can get charged for it,” said Feist. “But what do you think is worse, a fine, or spending the rest of your life knowing you’re responsible for a friend’s death?”

Students check out the physiotherapy tilt table

Following a break for lunch the students walked to the Pincher Creek Health Centre for presentations about emergency trauma treatment led by Nurse Trudy Bennet and rehabilitation following an accident with Physiotherapist Alec Chisholm.  Chisolm told the students that the main focus of physiotherapy was to help the patient regain independence of movement.  Trauma like that which occurs when a person hits the steering wheel of a car was demonstrated with a dummy.  Nurse Bennet tdemonstrated a bag of blood used for transfusions and explained that it was one unit, and the average person has six units of blood in their body.  When one unit of blood doesn't suffice the hospital calls STARS to have more delivered by helicopter.

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