The Rapides Regional Trauma Center is looking to make an impact. The Center, which is one of two trauma centers in Louisiana verified by the American College of Surgeons’ Committee on Trauma, already makes an impact in treating patients. Now, it is looking to make an impact by preventing area high school students from becoming trauma patients.
On March 22nd, Rapides Regional Trauma Center hosted “Sudden Impact” for a group of Tioga High School students. Sudden Impact provides education to high school students focused on preventing the number of injuries and deaths related to motor vehicle crashes. The program is managed by the Interim LSU Public Hospital in New Orleans, and the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.
“Sudden Impact is geared toward high school students and allows them to witness the devastation of motor vehicle crashes involving injuries and fatalities due to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, distracted driving and driving unrestrained,” said Scott Moreau, public information office for Louisiana State Police Troop E. “Trauma victims, medical staff and troopers give students direct exposure to this devastation.”
State Trooper John Dauzat presented the story of Ashlee Stokes to the Tioga students. Stokes was hit by a drunk driver in May, 2008 when she was a sophomore at a Slidell high school. Stokes is still recovering from the wreck and has become an advocate for the Sudden Impact program. “Her mind is fully functional, but she’s trapped inside her body,” Dauzat told the students. “The difference between Ashlee and you is one bad decision.”
In addition to hearing Ashlee’s story, the students were shown the legal consequences of being arrested for a DWI, how little alcohol has to be consumed in order for a teenager to become impaired, the dangers of distracted driving, and tours of the Rapides Regional Trauma Center and Rapides Regional Medical Center’s Intensive Care Unit.
Rapides Regional Trauma Center conducted a mock crash last school year at Tioga High School. In August, the Trauma Center was honored by the Sudden Impact program. “Not only do we want to provide the highest quality trauma care for our community, we want to play a major role in injury prevention,” said Donna Lemoine, RN, BSN, EMT-Paramedic, director of trauma services at Rapides Regional. “I hope they see that this is real life. A split-second changes someone’s life and the whole family. It’s a life-long consequence.”
Thousands of high school students have completed the seven-hour program, which includes sessions led by police officials, medical professionals, crash victims, mock trials and simulated crash demonstrations. In the 14 years of the Sudden Impact program, no student who took the course has died in a motor vehicle crash while in high school.