Every 32 minutes. That’s how often someone in the US dies at the hand of impaired driving. This number is engrained in the minds of students at Hoquiam High School. A program called “Every 32-Minute) came to a close yesterday, but the haunting memory of it should stick with students for awhile. In the program, students are pre-selected with parental permission. They meet with staff and their parents beforehand to cover all bases and make sure that the student is comfortable with the situation.
The program lasts two days. On the first day, all students attend class just as they do any other school day. Then, the reports start coming in. Every 32 minutes, a dispatch report of an accident is announced over the intercom system in the school. The student involved in the “accident” gets a visit from the Grim Reaper. They are placed on a gurney by paramedics. Next comes an obituary read by a friend or family member, also broadcasted over the intercom system. All of the deceased students then have their faces painted white and put on a black robe. They go back to their classes and their school day, but don’t communicate with anyone for the remainder of the day, because they’re supposed to be dead.
The program also consists of a mock car crash, complete with a medical helicopter that whisks an critically “injured” student away and a final assembly. The school, school district, police department and Grays Harbor Target Zero Task Force hope that the program has a lasting impact on the students, especially with prom season and summer just around the corner.