Pubdate: Fri, 17 Nov 2006
Source: Chronicle-Journal, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006 The Chronicle-Journal
Author: Sarah Elizabeth Brown


Eric Todd can remember the skid marks through the median's grass, 
though the memory is five years old.

He also remembers the beer bottle embedded in the young man's hand 
from the force of a sideways crash into a tree, despite that memory 
being at least a decade old.

Todd is a paramedic, and currently serves as a platoon supervisor 
with Superior North EMS.

In 26 years he's been to many, many vehicle crashes that lead to 
death and injury. Many of those involved booze or drugs.

Over the last 26 years, he's seen the crashes decline as tougher 
penalties and seat-belt laws came into place.

It's often not apparent at the crash scene that alcohol or drugs were 
involved, but comes out later during the police investigation, Todd 
said after the ribbon cutting for Mothers Against Drunk Driving's 
annual holiday season campaign against impaired driving.

But sometimes it's obvious, like the crash near Boulevard Lake that 
embedded the beer bottle into the passenger's hand. That young person 
died while the others in the vehicle lived.

In another impaired driving case a block from the Community 
Auditorium, a driver missed a turn and drove over a grassy median, 
striking two young women and killing one.

The routine steps they take at a crash scene help paramedics deal 
with the carnage they see. The support network within the ambulance 
service helps as well, he said.

But it's tough when you're at the hospital filling out paperwork and 
family members of crash victims arrive, terribly upset.

"That's the hardest part," said Todd. "The family are left to deal with this."

Lesley Read, president of the local MADD chapter, was one of those 
family members five years ago.

Her 29-year-old daughter, five months pregnant with her own second 
daughter, was killed by an impaired driver two days before Christmas.

Her daughter was a lab technician at the hospital, so she knew 
ambulance drivers, police, and lab staff who do autopsies on crash victims.

The doctor she worked with had to do the autopsy on her, said Read.

"We call it the rippling effect," Read said, explaining it's not only 
family but friends and co-workers of both victims and drunk drivers 
who are hurt.

"The community at large is affected."

Police officers, paramedics and drivers of buses, taxis, limousines 
and even a hearse were on hand with Read on Thursday to open the 
annual Project Red Ribbon - Tie One on for Safety campaign.

She's asking residents to tie one of the red MADD ribbons to an 
antenna or side mirror as a reminder to drive sober.

The campaign runs until the end of the first week in January, and 
ribbons are available at police, fire, ambulance and various 
transportation services.

"Drinking and driving is a choice," said Read. "You can choose to go 
home by limousine, designated driver, taxi or bus. Or, you can drink 
and drive and quite likely you or someone you love is going to go 
home in a police car, ambulance or with a fire truck involved."
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