Every 15 Minutes: Behind the Scene(s)

Emi Anzai, Mirada Staff

Last month, every student and teacher listened in terror as the P.A. put on the sound of a heartbeat flatlining, not knowing who was to be pulled out of the classroom and pronounced “dead.”

Students and teachers were removed from classrooms by firefighters, police officers and paramedics; representing the fact that they were killed by a drunk driving crash.

The “living dead” (the students picked out of the classrooms who ‘died’) were either drunk drivers, passengers, or innocent victims. 14 percent of the Living Dead were drunk passengers, 57 percent were drunk drivers, 14 percent were innocent drivers, 4 percent of the “living dead” were innocent passengers and 9 percent were students that were just walking at the wrong place at the wrong time.

This two-day program involved a mock scenario of drunk driving crash and an assembly, the first day being the crash scene, the second day being the assembly, where speakers from all over the spectrum of students, teachers, staff, police officers, paramedics, firefighters, and morticians come up and shared their stories, whether it is about a loved one or their experiences with drunk driving crashes.

Every 15 Minutes is more than just sitting a school full of kids into the multipurpose room and talking about the effects of alcohol crashes. Unlike an ordinary assembly, Every 15 Minutes shows every aspect of a drunk driving crash; from pulling wounded kids out of the cars, arresting the drunk driver, bringing the injured to the hospital, bringing the dead to the morgue, telling parents that their kids were killed or injured in the crash and the kids even dying at the hospital.

Every detail is played out, from the arrest, to the surgery, to the news delivered to parents.

Some claim that Every 15 Minutes is unnecessary and too traumatizing (perhaps due to the accurate portrayals of injuries), and even useless because of studies showing that there are no long-term benefits to the program.

For those who didn’t know Every 15 Minutes would be taking place, it was quite a shock to see fire trucks, ambulances, police cars, and even a helicopter show up on the school campus to take away the injured and deceased.

The event was coordinated by Beth McClure, who was quite pleased by the impact of the program.

McClure was chairperson of the 2016 Rio Every 15 Minutes committee which consisted of multiple parent volunteers, PTSA president, law enforcement and community medical personnel like the hospitals, the funeral homes, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and the chaplain seat of Sacramento.

McClure, along with the other students on the committee, picked students for this event to represent the entire school spectrum. Some of the Living Dead were chosen at random, but most were chosen because they had a large ‘Sphere of Influence’.

“I was chosen by Beth McClure, she was the parent who secured the funding, the grant money for Sutter Medical and she had come, basically was wanting to pick a couple staff member to be a part of it and she just came to obviously one of the councilors to be in charge, so I just volunteered,” councilor Heather Jensen said.

Another part of the Every 15 Minutes concerned some people during the program, such as the actors and how their families would react to the bad news.

“The saddest part about it, definitely seeing my mom cry,” senior Brandon Collins said. “I thought I was pretty strong throughout the whole experience and seeing details and behind the scenes of the funeral home and that didn’t really hit me, it didn’t make me cry that much, but seeing my mom cry did.”

The acting in Day One of the program was amazing, it almost sounded like it was scripted.

“Not at all. That is 100 percent raw emotions and happening in the moment. From the parents, the students, law enforcement, officer personnel, everyone is there as if it were actually happening in the moment,” McClure said.