The “Every 15 Minutes” program, designed to make youths think before they drink, made its mark on youths before it began.
“It can be a lesson learned to not text and drive or drink and drive,” said Mahasty Miranda, 19, a senior who attends Birmingham Community Charter High School in Van Nuys and sat in the front row waiting for it to begin on Wednesday morning.
Miranda said she learned about what was to happen before the event from being on her Snapchat account when other users of the social media platform said that students were dying.
“It was freaking me out,” Miranda said. “Then they were saying it was just rumors and it’s a scene that they’re doing for a car crash.”
The Los Angeles Police Department’s Operations-Valley Bureau, Los Angeles Fire Department, the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence and Providence Holy Cross Medical Center all took part in the dramatization on Wednesday morning.
Started in 1991 by the Chico Police Department, the “Every 15 Minutes” event featured wreckage from a DUI-related crash, classmates pulled from the scene, paramedics assisting and more.
There were 1,800 juniors and seniors involved on Wednesday from Birmingham Community Charter High School in Van Nuys, Magnolia Science Academy 2 in Van Nuys and Mission View Public Charter in Valencia, said Sandy Logan with the alcohol and drug dependence group.
“The idea of this is to select different students at different social cliques so when they go back into their communities they can go ahead and be leaders in their communities and change how their social norms are and their views on drinking and driving,” Logan said.
LAPD police detective Bill Bustos of the Valley Traffic Division, who added the LAPD has similar programs to “Every 15 Minutes” such as sober graduation, felt the event took on added importance because of upcoming prom, spring break and graduation celebrations.
Sebastian Hernandez, 16, a junior at Birmingham correctly guessed the event was about the dangers of drunken driving before it started and felt it was good because most of the attendees were already driving or would be soon.
“I think it will probably open a lot of people’s eyes about drunk driving and being under the influence.” Hernandez said.