The parking lot of the Jim Thorpe Area High School was the setting for a realistic automobile accident simulation, staged to hopefully impress the life-or-death importance of responsible driving to the high school students gathered there.
The idea for the simulation was the result of the senior project of David Michael III, a senior at JTAHS and a member of the Albrightsville Fire Department.
When David asked his department Chief Bruce Berger if the fire company would want to participate in such a drill, Berger said OK, noting that they hadn't done this in 10 years and they would gladly do it.
The somber presentation began with a call to the Carbon County 911 Center to report a simulated accident with injuries and entrapment.
First on scene were members of the Jim Thorpe Police Department who then called 911 and requested fire and ambulance response to the scene.
They informed the 911 Center that there was one deceased and two victims entrapped in each of two vehicles.
Shortly thereafter, fire engines and ambulances arrived on the scene with flashing lights and blaring sirens soon to be followed by a medevac landing on a nearby ball field.
The engines on scene were from the Albrightsville Fire Department and the ambulances were Lehighton ALS and the Lake Harmony Ambulance.
The medevac landing at the high school baseball field was coordinated by manpower and equipment of the Jim Thorpe Fire Department.
In very short order, the doors were removed from one vehicle and the roof removed from the other vehicle.
Emergency responders worked in unison to extricate the victims from the vehicles and stabilized them for removal from the scene.
Carbon County Coroner Bruce Nalesnik and deputy coroner Terry C. Smith were called on scene as a result of the fatality.
After a field test of one driver, it was determined that they had been operating their vehicle while intoxicated.
Jim Thorpe Police Chief Joe Schatz said that a charge of homicide by motor vehicle would entail going through court proceedings and then if found guilty, imprisonment with mandatory minimum sentencing for an offense such as this.
Chief Berger in speaking to the gathered students about the simulated crash and rescue noted that for some reason, not everyone takes it seriously, but cautioned them that, unfortunately, every year someone in this area is involved in such accidents.
Participating in the exercise were Carbon County 911 Center, Jim Thorpe Police Department, Albrightsville Fire Department, Jim Thorpe Fire Department, Lake Harmony Ambulance, Lehighton ALS, Jim Thorpe School District, medevac, and the Carbon County Coroner's Office.
The vehicles for the simulation came from All Points Towing of Jim Thorpe and Jimmy's Auto of Blakeslee.
While not on scene, Chief Berger thank Gary Williams, 911 Center director, and all of the dispatchers involved in the exercise.