Officers from the Oxnard Police Department will be coordinating the Every 15 Minutes (E15M) Program at Hueneme High School, 500 Bard Road, in Oxnard, this Thursday and Friday. Unique in its design and powerful in its impact, the E15M Program is an educational experience that reminds us all of the dangers associated with driving while impaired by alcohol and/or other drugs.
“We look for proactive, effective and powerful ways to drive deep-rooted messages to the core of our young individuals,’ said Sergeant Luis Mancha who oversees the Oxnard Police School Resource Officer Unit. “Today’s students and youth are not like any generations before. They are intelligent, at the same time still developing and very much impressionable. Our hope is that this production sparks conversations amongst friends, well after this program,” Mancha added.
Every 15 minutes in the U.S., someone is killed in a crash involving an impaired driver. The E15M program includes student participants being removed from their class every 15 minutes throughout the morning by an Oxnard Police Officer who acts as the Grim Reaper. An obituary is read to the class and the student participants later return to class as the “living dead”, complete with make-up. From that point on (since the victims are “dead”), they will not speak or otherwise interact with others for the remainder of the day except to be present in their regular classes.
Starting at about 11:25 a.m. on May 1, the OHS student body (all Juniors & Seniors) will assemble in the football stadium to witness a mock head-on crash scene and simulated rescue that will include a full emergency response by Oxnard Police, Oxnard Fire, Gold Coast EMS, Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office, and McCarty & Sons Towing.
At the end of the school day, instead of returning home, student participants made into the “living dead” or those who were “killed” in the crash, together with several adult chaperones, will be transported to a local hotel for an overnight student retreat, facilitated by a support staff of counselors and police officers. The participants will continue to be out of contact with their family and friends overnight to simulate their separation/death.
The E15M program will continue on May 2, 2014 with a mock “funeral” assembly in the Hueneme High School gym starting at 11:30 a.m. where participants and their parents will share personal and often very emotional letters they wrote to one another the previous evening that begin with “Dear Mom & Dad, Every 15 minutes in the United States, someone is killed in a crash involving an impaired driver. Today I died. I never had a chance to tell you…” This is arguably the most powerful, impactful, and emotional part of the 2- day program. While the crash was staged, the emotions of the funeral assembly are very real, and heart-wrenching.
“The impact I have seen at Channel Islands High School, Pacifica High School, and Oxnard High last year is huge. These students really come to realize what an impact they could have on their parents and loved ones if something was to happen to them. It hits some of these kids particularly hard for a number of reasons – for some, they have had a loved one die or impacted in a significant way due to a drunk driver,” Mancha added. “This program would not be possible or successful if not for the Oxnard Police School Resource Officers and responsible businesses in our community who work hard to organize this program and production,” he added.
This powerful no cost educational program, funded by community donations and sponsored by the Oxnard Police Foundation, will challenge teenagers and others to think about the responsibility of making mature and responsible decisions when lives are involved.
Oxnard Police would like to thank the following businesses and individuals:
· Camino Del Sol Funeral Home
· American Medical Response
· Hometown Buffet
· GrandStay Residential Suites
· Luners Professional Sound & Lighting
· McCarthy & Sons Towing
· Oxnard Fire
· Oxnard Union High School District
· Pete Ryeberg, Santa Clara Church
· St. John’s Regional Medical Center
· Ventura County District Attorney’s Office
· Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office
· Ventura County Honorable Judge Kevin McGee