For the fourth consecutive year, Badlands National Park has partnered with state and local agencies to present an alcohol and drug awareness program to communities located in Jackson, Haakon, Meade and Pennington counties.
This year, in two separate programs emphasizing the importance of making good decisions, the South Dakota Awareness Program reached more than 300 young adults and picked up the New Underwood and Douglas High Schools.
The program itself includes various speakers and activity stations that emphasize the importance of making good decisions. Stations included a vehicle rollover simulator for seat belt awareness, vehicle and boat DUI modules, a climbing wall, and other confidence courses.
Perhaps the most powerful part of the program is the simulated accident in which the students watch a brief play, hear an actual 911 report, then are taken to the accident scene and observe the various emergency service organizations actually responding to a staged accident. Student actors and actresses are utilized as victims, with fake injuries cosmetically applied by the moulage team from Ellsworth Air Force Base. Police, fire and ambulance personnel and a life flight crew and helicopter from the Rapid City Regional Hospital respond to the incident as if it was real. Interagency radio communications are broadcast over speakers so that the students can hear provider communications.
At the conclusion of the demonstration, the students are encouraged to discuss the events and observe a simulated courtroom scene. The entire program is emotionally powerful. with special presentations from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) involving previous students who have been involved in fatal accidents and the consequences of their bad decisions.
There was considerable media coverage, as students and emergency personnel were interviewed by various news media. Representatives from more than 20 agencies and a dozen local businesses participated in this yearâs events, making it one of the largest such event. It was also the first year that personnel Mount Rushmore National Memorial participated in the program. This yearâs programs targeted high school freshman.