By Kasey Hawrysz
Coated in fake blood, vomit and intestines, seven volunteers spent more than an hour Saturday pretending to be victims as part of a mock car crash during intermission of Little 500 qualifications. The event, organized by the IUEMS, the emergency medical service group on campus, was intended to raise awareness about the dangers of driving while under the influence.
"Hopefully seeing a realistic view of an accident will make people think twice about their decisions," said Amanda Levinson, vice-president of IUEMS and the chief organizer of the event.
The "crash" took place in the Harry Gladstein Fieldhouse parking lot. Two wrecked cars, provided by a junk yard, were arranged to look like a drunken driver had run a red light and been "T-boned" by another vehicle. EMT Kelli Jo Gatewood played a biker, who was "hit" by the cars and pronounced dead at the scene.
"Being put in a body bag and driven off in a hearse was probably the creepiest thing that I have ever done in my entire life," Gatewood said.
Police were asked to respond as if the accident were real, IUPD Lt. Jerry Minger said. Police officers, paramedics and firefighters were on the scene to perform triage and extricate the victims from the vehicles the same way they would in any other accident. Firefighters used the "jaws of life" to cut through metal to remove one victim, while the drunken driver was mock-arrested by the police.
"For me the scariest part was not being able to see anything," volunteer Lauren Arnett said. "I was supposed to be unconscious and unresponsive, (so) I couldn't actually look and see what was going on."
Most of the other "victims" were involved in IUEMS, said Arnett, who volunteered on behalf of event co-sponsor Panhellenic Association. After 45 minutes of lying on the ground, Arnett was strapped to a backboard and placed in a Lifeline helicopter, which flew around for a few minutes before landing back in the parking lot so spectators could look inside.
"It is about community awareness," Lifeline paramedic Jana Pogue said. "If it allows one person to think twice about drinking and driving, our involvement is worth it."
Preparation for the event began at 7 a.m., and the finishing touches were not completed until just before the event started at 2 p.m, Levinson said. Teen Life Productions, which filmed the mock crash for educational use, provided professional makeup to make volunteers' "wounds" look as realistic as possible.
The process started with latex, which had to be blow dried between layers, Arnett said. The latex was then cut apart and covered with fake blood so that it would appear that victims' body parts had actually been ripped open. For a finishing touch, rock candy was used to resemble glass embedded in the skin.
"When you touched it, blood would actually squirt out," Arnett said. "It was very realistic."
The idea for the event was first proposed last year by IUEMS as a way to get involved in the community, Levinson said. Its biggest event of the year is Little 500, when IUEMS oversees practices and tends to any injuries that occur in the crowd, she said.
Despite Little 500's reputation as a weekend of partying, the number of arrests for drunken driving does not really spike during this time, which Minger attributes to the increased police presence.
"As a firefighter and an EMT, I have seen real accidents," Gatewood said. "I have also worked Little 500 the last two years, and I see the number of students and the level of intoxication. I just hope that the demonstration keeps a few more people off the roads."