Published: 00:00, 24 December 2016
You’ve gone out for one drink and it’s turned into two or three, but you’re not far from home, your mates are relying on you as the driver to get them home and you feel fine. Do you get behind the wheel?
The answer is of course not, and as thousands of newly turned 18-year-olds celebrate their first festive season down the pub, firefighters have been sharing some life-saving advice.
Crews from Dartford, Swanscombe and Fifth Watch visited the Leigh Academy, Dartford, for a head-on crash simulation on Friday.
The scene was a stark one. Several young people trapped in two cars, needing urgent medical attention.
Event organiser Dartford crew manager Terry Beal said: “Over 177 car occupants aged 16 to 24 have been killed or seriously injured on Kent’s roads in the last three years.
“We regularly see the devastating effect of these crashes, which cause pain and heartache not just for the person hurt or killed but to passengers, families, friends and the emergency services called to assist.
“This time of year, people are thinking about drinking and we want to get the message through to them not to get behind the wheel.
“By involving students and showing them this graphic demonstration, we hope that they will think carefully when they get behind the wheel.”
Pupils Alice Nicholson, 18, and Chloe Lathrope, 17, were pretend casualties in one car, while I played the casualty in the second vehicle.
Each of us were checked over by Andy Booth, an emergency medical technician with Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS).
I had ‘suffered’ severe spinal injuries, so firefighter Sam Walker held my head still while other crew members – including Sam’s brother Luke – cut off the car roof.
You don’t appreciate the sheer panic of that situation until you experience it first hand. The noise is huge as metal crunches around you, and it can take up to an hour.
Meanwhile, you can’t see anything as you’re under a sheet to protect you from debris.
It’s a pretty empty feeling, too, seeing your shell of a car.
Alice, who is studying English, psychology, drama and history, said: “It was so loud, and it was pretty scary. It’s good to see what it’s really like though, to build awareness.”
And when asked what she would say to somebody thinking about drink driving, Chloe replied: “I’d say, ‘are you completely dumb? Just don’t do it’.”