First responders hope Riverside students learn from mock texting & driving crash

QUINCY, W.Va. — It can wait.

David Armstrong, the Deputy Fire Coordinator for Kanawha County Commission, wants teens to know that whatever is distracting a person from driving can be put to the side until the drive is over.

That point was driven across at Riverside High School on Monday by Kanawha County first responders during a mock texting & driving crash in front of hundreds of students.

“Don’t text and drive,” Armstrong said. “Don’t be fooling with the radio, don’t be fooling with your food. Pay attention to the road. It only takes a spilt-second to change your life and possibly someone else’s life forever.”

Responders from Belle Fire Department, Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, Kanawha County Emergency Management and Kanawha County Ambulance were on hand for the crash that started with responders buzzing to the scene.

From there, two individuals injured from the crash were sent to the ambulance, one was deceased and taken away, and one was taken into custody by law enforcement for causing the accident.

Three students and one assistant principal participated in the crash that was watched by more than 300 upperclassmen from RHS.

Afterward, Armstrong, who also works as the Belle Fire Chief, fielded questions from the kids.

“We had some really good questions afterward that we were able to answer for them,” he said. “They were very attentive. At one point, I looked over and all of the student body was watching what we were doing. That is important, we wanted them to see that, we wanted them to pay attention.”

RHS’ prom is on Saturday and graduation on May 25, two events that can cause distractions while driving.

Armstrong said the event not only attempts to teach the children but it can be used as a teaching moment for first responders.

“It gives us an opportunity to work closely with EMS and communicate during the extrication process,” he said. “We need to make sure we are all on the same page when we are moving patients, when we are making those cuts. When we are cutting the car we want to make sure we are not endangering the person we are cutting out.”

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