Graduation is a time to celebrate - It’s not a time to mourn
The Trauma Programs of the Montreal Children’s Hospital, Think First Québec, Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) encourage the class of 2010 to make wise choices
Karen Lemay doesn’t remember much about the night she was seriously injured in a car crash. June 12, 2009 is a blur; so are the following two weeks. She does recall having a drink or two before piling in to a car with five of her friends sometime around 11:30 p.m. She was sitting in the back seat behind the driver. They were headed to a party. One of her best friends was at the wheel under the influence of drugs. While the driver wasn’t speeding, she did make a serious error: she cruised through a stop sign without making a full stop. At that instant, a speeding car entered the intersection and t-boned the car. The point of impact was exactly where Karen was sitting.
The Trauma Programs of The Montreal Children’s Hospital, Think First Québec and the SPVM urge the class of 2010 to make wise choices this graduation season and throughout the year.
“In general teens are identified as a high-risk trauma category. Teens are at a stage of life where they usually want to assert their independence, have more privileges, and make their own decisions and choices,” says Debbie Friedman, MCH Trauma Director. “Unfortunately, sometimes they think they’re invincible and want to experience the thrill of the moment. They make split-second decisions that can have immediate and long-term impact on their lives.”
The three groups urge parents to sit down with their teenagers to discuss such issues as: drinking or taking drugs and driving; speeding and other forms of reckless driving, including over-packing cars and not wearing seat belts; binge drinking; and the latest fad, car surfing. “By talking with your kids about these issues, your teen may just think twice about making decisions that could end their lives or cause life-long disabilities,” says police Constable Jean-Pierre Lévis. Constable Lévis knows first hand the impact of drinking or taking drugs while driving, and making reckless decisions. When he was younger, he lost eight of his friends in motor vehicle crashes over the course of 18 months..
“At this time of year, we want parents to provide guidance, teens to make wise choices and friends to be supportive of their classmates’ decisions,” says Natalie Auclair, Executive Director of Think First Québec. “Think First Québec seeks to safeguard the health of our most precious resource, our youth. We believe that young people must use their heads in order to protect their bodies.”
In the past few months, members of MCH Trauma began participating in the Think First Québec’s in-school educational programs. Members of MCH Trauma in collaboration with ThinkFirst Québec and local West Island police are presenting information to secondary five students about the dangers of impaired driving and other risky behaviours.
The presentations, involving PowerPoint, case scenarios and testimonials, are being given in seven different high schools between March 11, 2010 and May 20, 2010. The presentations are about 75 minutes long and can be done in English or French. In this recent out-reach initiative approximately 2000 teens will have attended the program.
Think First Québec talks about the dangers of impaired driving and the options that can be used to avoid it; the police officer reviews different aspects of the criminal code related to impaired driving; members of MCH Trauma discuss the possible injuries and care an adolescent involved in a motor vehicle collision (MVC) can receive at our Trauma Centre, and a champion from Think First discusses his or her experience as a patient and the life they deal with after being involved in an MVC.
Some facts: In 2008, 35 Québec drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 were involved in fatal car crashes, and another 12,047 had motor vehicle related traumas resulting in injury. Young drivers account for only 10 per cent of drivers on Québec roads, yet account for 23 per cent of drivers involved in crashes. The main culprits: recklessness and inexperience.*
(*statistics gathered by la Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec)