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Emergency services team up to promote safety

Kirsten Edmunds
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Kirsten Edmunds

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Local area schools along with Western Illinois University students were given the opportunity to learn more about what the different public safety departments do in various situations and in their general profession here on campus.

Western Emergency Medical Services (WEMS) and the Office of Public Safety (OPS) paired up to host a mock DUI as well as a Public Safety Expo near Western Hall on April 24.

“Our biggest goal today is to come together,” said OPS officer Jim Van Vlymen. “Multiple agencies are coming together and giving back to the community. It’s a way to show people what we are all about, we are here to help, and just so people can meet us and let them know we are human too.”

At 10 a.m., the sounds of a car accident happening in Q-Lot received the attention of people in the audience as they were shown a fake two-car accident scene. One actor was on the ground shown lifeless while two other actors exited their car with alcohol bottles.

Officers from OPS along with the Macomb Police Department, the Illinois State Police and the McDonough County Sheriff’s Department, along with emergency personnel from WEMS, the Macomb Fire Department and McDonough District Hospital arrived to the scene and acted as they would in a real car accident.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), on average, two in three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime. The whole scenario took roughly half an hour and had an audience composed of students from local high schools along with Western students and community members.

Three students from the Macomb High School were actors in the scenario along with fire protection services major Jacob Hendrickson. He said this is very beneficial for students to watch and he is happy to be apart of it.

“It makes me never want to get arrested and never want to be in this situation,” Hendrickson said. “It definitely makes you think twice before you drink and drive. I have done other mock DUIs before, so this isn’t my first time doing this, but it definitely reminds me of why I want to do work (in Fire Protection Services) and why you don’t do what I was acting to do.”

Among students in the audience was Macomb High School Driver’s Education teacher Jeff Thurman. He said he was glad his students received the chance to visualize what could happen to them and others if they choose to drink and drive.

”It gives them a safe real-life picture of what really does happen,” Thurman said. “I think it makes it more realistic for them as to what actually can happen, and to see one of their classmates being taken away in a body bag and the other one taken away in a gurney hopefully will have an impact on them.”

After the scenario was over, the mock DUI audience was led into Western Hall, where various tables public agencies displayed safety information. Two officers brought in K9 officers and gave different scenarios in how their dogs help out. There were also simulators for police scenarios involving firearms presented by Illinois Tactical Firearms Training and driving from Illinois State Police for students to participate in.

Macomb Mayor Mike Inman said the community wanted to bring all the departments together to educate students and give them an opportunity to see what the departments do.

“I think that’s a great opportunity for these students and for the students across campus to see these particular professionals in a way they maybe don’t know,” Inman said. “It gives them an opportunity to see what they do at a very much lower stress level for everybody. It maybe a good opportunity for some communication to occur where people can get a better understanding of what police do, EMS does, and what our fire services do.”

Inman said the community is in graduation and prom season, and he wants students to be aware of their actions and to make the right decisions.

“There is an underage drinking component in our society,” Inman said. “We all have to address the elephant in the room and admit there, that we are condoning it by this not that type of activity. We are, again, just underscoring to these students that there are consequences. We won’t want this to be an event that is ruined by someone’s lack of making good choices.”

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Emergency services team up to promote safety