Hundreds of Massapequa High School students watched as the hamlet’s fire department cut their friends from a terrible wreck.
Sophomore Shannon Batt was spread out on the hood of the sedan she was riding in, in a pool of blood. In front of her was a van on its side with more students trapped inside.
This time, fortunately, the “wreck” was on the school’s football field, and was merely a re-creation staged by students, members of the Massapequa Fire Department and Nassau police to promote safe decisions during prom season. Fire department Assistant Chief Gerard Keuschler hopes that by acting this scene out for junior and seniors, his fellow volunteers won’t have to do this for real.
“By the looks of what I could see, I do believe we [had an impact],” said Keuschler, who narrated what the fire department was doing using the field’s PA system. “That was absolutely as real as it possibly could be. We want these kids to feel the agony that takes place in these situations.”
The event struck a chord with Massapequa High School principal Barbara Williams, who lost three of her friends just weeks before her high school prom. The mood among students was somber as she recounted that memory to open the program.
“For juniors they are just getting their licenses; for seniors we’re getting close to graduation,” said Williams, who added that the school runs several safe decision programs throughout the year. “We thought this would be a great culminating event.”
Students looked on as Batt, a junior member of the Massapequa Fire Department, was laid on the track, face down, with a sheet draped over her. Some students smiled uncomfortably, some wore shock on their faces, and some cried.
Firefighters used the Jaws of Life to tear the doors off the sedan and the roof off of the van. Sophomore Sarah Jackson was put in a neck brace, strapped to a gurney and wheeled into a waiting ambulance. Her braces shined in the sun as she answered paramedics’ questions.
Senior Jeremey Krebs said he thinks the event had an impact on his peers.
“I think there were people who were here who looked at this as a joke,” he said. “But I think there’s really a lot more people with an understanding about just how important this is.”