The Drama in Trauma

High school senior Kelby Yelder, 17, didn’t survive the drunken driving accident that brought her via helicopter to the NorthBay Medical Center Trauma unit on April 12.

Her classmate, Jhoanna Aure, 18, arrived via ground ambulance moments later — paralyzed from the same crash.

Fortunately for both students, it was just a drill, part of a two-day Every 15 Minutes program designed to drive home the message of the dangers of drinking and driving to students at Jesse Bethel High School in Vallejo.

The Every 15 Minutes program dramatizes a crash, complete with triaged patient, law enforcement and first responders. The student “victims” are whisked away as their fellow students watch. Throughout the day, other students are visited by hooded figures who take them from their classes to dramatize for the remaining student body the reality of losing a classmate. The “victims” spend the night at a retreat away from the school and their families and return the next day for an assembly in which a video of the dramatization is played and follow-up discussions held.

NorthBay’s Trauma team participates in the Every 15 Minutes program regularly, viewing it as another avenue to drill and prepare staff.

“It helps us maintain our skills,” explained J. Peter Zopfi, M.D., medical director of the Trauma program. “We are a busy trauma center … but you never know what you will get so we always want to drill and identify issues now rather than in a real situation.”

The added benefit is being part of a program to educate students on the dangers of drinking and driving, he added.

Yelder and Aure felt the importance of their participation as well. Both are on the school’s cheer squad and well known on campus.

“I felt like a lot of students know me and for me to be the one in the crash would make it more real for them,” said Yelder.

“I think it’s an important message,” added Aure. “When something like this (crash) happens for real, it’s tragic.”