GREAT FALLS, Mont. --
More than 100 people witnessed a car crash that left a passenger
dying and the driver frantically calling 911 for help. The staged event Aug. 12 at Malmstrom Air Force Base wasn’t a real tragedy, but it demonstrated the real-life consequences resulting from an individual choosing to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The realistic demonstration of the ramifications of drunk driving was designed by members of the 341st Medical Operations Squadron.
Many of the roles were performed by Malmstrom Airmen who serve in the medical and security forces career fields.
219th RED HORSE Squadron leadership originally viewed the scenario earlier this year when it was performed during the 341st Missile Wing Wingman Day. They recognized the value the training offered and asked that it be performed for their Montana Air National Guard personnel.
219th RHS Deputy Commander Lt. Col. Jason Foster gathered his guardsmen outside near the accident scene and introduced the presentation.
“It’s a very worthwhile thing to think about as we’re talking about preventing drunk driving so we don’t lose each other or potentially lose innocent bystanders, family members or friends,” Foster told the gathered troops. “We all know people we have lost as a result of drunk driving, and it’s preventable.”
The presentation featured an Airman acting in the lead role of “Airman Smith,” an individual who chose to drink and drive.
The audience of RED HORSE personnel stood in silence as they witnessed the passenger being extracted from the vehicle wreckage by fire department emergency workers. Airman Smith was arrested at the crash scene by security forces members.
The guard members were then ushered into a room as medical personnel attempted to resuscitate the passenger-who was the driver’s girlfriend-but to no avail.
The group next stopped to view three Air Force officers visiting the home of the victim’s parents to notify them of their daughter’s death.
The RED HORSE personnel moved from room to room as the scenarios continued.
A security forces booking scene followed, where Airman Smith faced the charge of having killed his girlfriend and was read his Miranda rights.
Airman Smith then found himself in a courtroom scene in front of a judge with the prosecution and defense presenting arguments for and against harsh punishment for his crime.
At the conclusion of the mock trial Airman Smith was found guilty of vehicular homicide, given a dishonorable discharge and sentenced to the maximum time of confinement allowed by law. He was then handcuffed and led out of the courtroom.
During the final scene, RED HORSE personnel stood and watched respectfully as military funeral honors were provided. An Air Force chaplain provided a graveside sermon, three volleys were fired by the firing party, a bugler performed Taps and the folded casket flag was presented by a member of the Honor Guard to the crying parents of the deceased.
The powerful vignettes visibly moved the RED HORSE members who watched as the presentation transitioned from the initial crash scene to the sentencing of Airman Smith and then on to the funeral of his girlfriend.
341st MDOS Tech. Sgt. Jade Wyman is one of two squadron members responsible for designing the presentation.
“A lot of the people had tears in their eyes,” said Wyman. “It really generates a lot of emotion, especially for people who have lost someone to a DUI or have been in that situation where they have had one or they know someone who has.”
The presentation was created to convince Airmen that drinking and driving is not worth the possible consequences.
“Fortunately, we haven’t had a death on Malmstrom or with our guard units, but the potential is always there,” presentation designer and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program Coordinator Mark Hewitt said. “If we can touch one or two of the people out here and get them to have a second thought when they’re out there, it’s a win for us.”
At the end of the presentation Foster thanked those helping to put on the event and asked 219th RHS personnel to remember the important theme of the presentation.
“It all can be avoided by making the good decision,” Foster said. “Hopefully, if in that situation down the road, this will help each of us to remember and avoid all the pain that we saw so that it doesn’t happen in reality.”