The eighth annual “PARTY at the PAC” event, held February 15 and 16 at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton, offered a sobering look at the consequences of unsafe driving for almost five thousand students from northeastern Wisconsin.
The educational program is sponsored by the Theda Clark Trauma Center. Its name is an acronym for Prevent Alcohol and Risk-Related Trauma in Youth. The program’s goals are to encourage young people to make safer choices as drivers by embracing personal responsibility for their actions.
Highlights included a simulated car crash demonstrating emergency response efforts, and items — including a demolished car — from actual traffic accidents.
One focus of the half-day event was the risks of drunk driving. For this year’s program, participants heard from a number of people who had firsthand knowledge of serious — and sometimes fatal — Wisconsin car crashes where alcohol was a factor. Accident victims, emergency responders, and trauma surgeons alike told the spellbound audience about the tragedies that take place when drivers act irresponsibly.
Speakers this year included Tyler Otto, who was the driver in a fatal 2007 automobile crash in Winnebago County. Otto, who was only 18 at the time of the accident, had had a blood-alcohol level of 0.06.
Drunk driving was not the exclusive focus of the event. This year, emphasis was also placed on distracted driving, a key issue among teenagers. Presenters demonstrated the immense dangers posed by texting and the use of cell phones while driving.
Ray Georgen, MD, medical director for the Trauma Center at Theda Clark, served as coordinator for the event. “It’s an awesome responsibility to have a driver’s license. We want to really impart on kids not to be drinking and driving, not to be distracted, not to be talking on a cell phone, and the current big problem is texting while driving,” he said to reporters.
Hupy and Abraham salutes our community leaders in their successful presentation, which has already provoked dozens of positive comments by local high school students. We are grateful for the efforts of “PARTY at the PAC” organizers and participants toward making Wisconsin’s highways safer.