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Students get a lesson out of Every 15 Minutes

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By Bernadette Lauritzen

Los Alamos Police Department in collaboration with a variety of agencies will present “Every 15 Minutes,” at Los Alamos High School today.
The event is an opportunity to educate students about the gravity of topics like drinking and driving, prior to large-scale events like the prom.
“The program involves two major groups of students: the ‘living dead’ and the ‘crash group,’ ” said Officer Jason Herrera, of the Los Alamos Police Department. “The ‘living dead’ are students that are pulled from class by the Grim Reaper. Upon leaving the class, police officers and chaplains provide the death notification of the student to the class. Students are then taken, placed into an Every 15 Minutes T-shirt, given white face paint and return to class.”
The activity, which may be viewed by some as harsh, allows students to view the real-world scenario that every 15 minutes, someone dies in an alcohol-related crash.
Students receive a different perspective of how someone can be taken away, in a moment of time, with no opportunity to say goodbye.
“The rest of the school day, those students are mere shadows of themselves: present in class, but not speaking or interacting with those around them,” Herrera said.
According to Herrera, the crash team plays a far different role. These students are brought together, given fake injuries and covered in fake blood, placed in the wrecked cars, where both the fire and police departments will respond to the crash as if it had just occurred in front of the student body.
The enactment is done in an assembly format where students witness the scene, in a mock crash.
“Upon responding to the scene, LAFD will call in the helicopter that will transport one critically injured to LAMC ER, where the student will ‘die.’ Another student will be declared dead on scene and Office of the Medical Investigator will release the body to DeVargas funeral home,” Herrera said. “The drunk driver will be arrested, taken to the detention center, changed into jail clothes, then walked to the Magistrate Court where he will be sentenced for the crimes committed. The remaining students will be transported in the ambulance and released at the hospital.”
Drivers passing by the high school may witness the Every 15 Minutes activities. Residents should be aware that the incident is being done as an opportunity to educate students and their families and questions can be directed to the Los Alamos Police Department.