Every 15 Minutes

“Dear Mom and Dad, every fifteen minutes someone in the United States dies from an alcohol related traffic collision, and today I died. I never had the chance to tell you…”

That is how students participating in the Every 15 Minutes program begin their letter to their parents, following their simulated “death” resulting from a staged alcohol related fatality collision. The morning of April 24th, 2013, members of the Anchorage Police Department, Search & Rescue Team, Anchorage Fire Department, and the Anchorage School District joined forces to powerfully illustrate the consequences of driving impaired to the students of Eagle River High School.

Every 15 Minutes, a national program coordinated locally by Anchorage Police Officer Wendi Shackelford, strives to offer “real-life experience without the real-life risks”. Students, parents and school staff joined rescue workers to stage a realistic, alcohol related traffic collision. During this year's two day enactment, victims were transported to a local hospital or the morgue, depending on their “condition”, and the student “drunk driver” was arrested and taken to jail. Student participants spent the night at a local facility to simulate the sudden separation from friends and family.

The following morning, a memorial service was held at Eagle River High School. The entire school turned out to watch scenes from the first day’s staged collision, hear poignant letters written by parents and students about their experiences and sense of loss, and listen as APD Officer Randy Hughes shared his experiences after falling victim to a drunk driver in 2011, all designed to further illustrate the disastrous consequences and devastating effects of driving impaired.

Every 15 Minutes is an incredibly powerful program. It is an opportunity for young people to experience the tragedy and loss that can stem from making bad choices. For more information on the Every 15 Minutes program, go to www.every15minutes.com, review the 2010 local procedural manual, or click here to watch the 2012 Every 15 Minutes event held last year at Chugiak High school. 

Photos from Every 15 Minutes at Eagle River High School, April 24th and 25th, 2013