By Michael Gelbwasser, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – When police, firefighters and paramedics are asked to respond en masse to an accident near a high school, the news is usually not good.
But on May 2, just such a scene helped Shrewsbury High School (SHS) juniors and seniors, in a very real and dramatic way, prepare for their upcoming proms and graduation.
Students played the roles of teens involved in a mock two-car “accident” staged near the school's field house entrance, at 64 Holden St. The event was coordinated by the Shrewsbury Police and Fire Departments, and the SHS Health/Wellness Department.
For about 15 minutes, juniors and seniors watched from the hill as police, firefighters and UMassMemorial emergency personnel assisted the “crash victims.” Some students were trapped in one vehicle until firefighters extricated them. Some student actors were taken away on stretchers.
Principal Todd Bazydlo and Director of Health, Physical Education, Family and Consumer Sciences? Patricia Degon addressed the juniors and seniors in the auditorium before the drill, to set the scene.
“It's a serious event. It's a solemn event. It's a very sobering event when you see it. There's not many of us that have had the opportunity to actually see what happens at an accident scene, a critical accident scene,” Bazydlo told the students.
“I want you to pay particular attention to the amount of time it takes for the first responders to actually work a situation like this,” he added.
Degon said that “our goal here today is not to scare you or upset you.”
It was important, she noted, for the students to remember they had choices when it came to their own safety.
“You can always wear your seat belt. You can drive safely. You can avoid excessive speed, and follow the traffic laws,” she said.
Students who felt that watching the mock accident would upset them were invited to stay in the auditorium or go to the nurse's office, Degon said.
“We know that some of you may have been directly involved or impacted by something like this, and it would be upsetting,” she said.
Bazydlo said SHS hosts a mock accident every other year.
Last spring, juniors and seniors heard from Jimmy Butcher, whose daughter and several others died in an automobile accident, he said.
The junior prom is May 10, the senior prom is May 24 and graduation is May 29.