Life can change 'In Just 3 Seconds'

By MAJ Michael Humphreys

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PETERSON AFB, Colo. -Empty beer cans litter the roadway where Peterson AFB security police respond to a two car accident on Patrick Street Tuesday in time to wrestle to the ground a drunken driver and his passenger fleeing the scene while the passengers of the other vehicle suffer from potentially life threatening injuries as a result of not wearing their seatbelts.

Fortunately, the blood in this accident isn’t real, and the injuries are notional in this demonstration hosted by the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command in cooperation with the 21st Space Wing and In 3 Seconds safety demonstration program.

Sadly, alcohol related accidents like the one demonstrated here happen every 15 minutes in the United States said Mike McKenzie, safety director for NORAD and USNORTHCOM. “In the last 45 minutes while you’ve been watching this demonstration, this happened 3 times,” McKenzie said.

The purpose of this demonstration was to remind service members of the consequences of the choices they make before going into this holiday season.

“It’s all about choices people make,” said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Frank Grass, deputy commander USNORTHCOM.

Grass said he frequently gets accident reports from the Army Safety Office that details the circumstances of a service member’s death. “Many times (the report) is a Soldier, recently redeployed from Iraq from his second, third or fourth tour in combat only to be killed on the highway,” he said.

Grass said most of the reports he reads are avoidable and a result of speed, alcohol or fatigue. “As we go into this holiday season, it’s important for us spend some time looking at safety.”

While providing a graphic scenario for observers to think about before traveling to friends and family this holiday, the demonstration was also an opportunity for first responders at Peterson AFB to practice their skills in a realistic setting Grass said. Even screaming mock family members were introduced to the scene requiring security police to prevent interference with first responders.

Ultimately, the commands’ goal was to send out a message in advance of the holidays to remind service members to do the right thing. “People who have seen a DUI accident will never forget it,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Amy Jacobs, intelligence analyst and substance abuse prevention leader for NORAD and USNORTHCOM. “We wanted to create for the audience the experience of a drunk driving accident in a memorable way so it will be difficult for them to forget.”