In early September the Blount County Sheriff’s Office opened the driving track to area high school students to remind them of the hazards of drinking and driving and show them what happens when someone is cut out of their vehicle by emergency responders.
Students from Alcoa, Heritage and William Blount High Schools participated on separate days. Blount County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Marian O’Briant the sheriff’s office put on a similar program in April for the Heritage High School.
“The Heritage High School drivers education students liked it so much the teacher said they wanted to do it again,” O’Briant said.
Days were scheduled for Heritage High students to come to the driving track off County Farm Road in Blount County. William Blount and Alcoa high school students also learned about the program and spent time at the driving track.
Students got to see what happens when emergency personnel respond to a car crash. “They started the day with Blount County Fire Department and Rural/Metro Ambulance Service and they did a mock scene of extricating someone out of a vehicle using the “Jaws of life.”
O’Briant said that the Lifestar helicopter from the University of Tennessee Medical Center came one day and on the other days the Air Evac Life Team helicopter out of McMinn County was on display.
After that the students participated in field sobriety tests while wearing fatal vision goggles that mimicked the effect of alcohol on the body. They also drove on cone courses. “They went from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day and the traffic safety officers talked with them about the hazards of drinking and driving,” she said. “It’s a way for students to see our people are here to help them and make sure they stay safe.”
Deputy Patrick Pearson conceived the idea for the course. “We plan to do this class again in the spring for all of the high schools in the county who want to participate,” O’Briant said.