The Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre hosted the very successful ‘Just One Life’ event 2nd March, organised by The Rotary Club of Ballymoney.
Other attending guests included Mayor Michelle Knight-McQuillan and Councillor Ian Stevenson from Causeway Coast and Glens Council; Past District Governor for Rotary in Ireland, Philip Beggs and representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, the Road Safety Committee and Inner Wheel Club.
The ‘Just One Life’ Driver Awareness Programme for young drivers was initiated by The Rotary Club of Wexford and has been implemented in other parts of Ireland. The programme aims to emphasise the stark realities and
often tragic results of inappropriate driving behaviours.
Australia and New Zealand have copied this programme: they involve 150,000 young people annually and have seen a definite reduction in the number of accidents involving young drivers.
The Ballymoney event included an outdoor demonstration showing a mock road accident scenario with three school pupils (Cahal Henry, Jack Doak, and Eve Meyer) acting as injured occupants, including one ‘fatality’. A full commentary was provided as police, Ambulance and Fire Brigade arrived and set about safely extracting the injured occupants from the vehicle. The driver was breathalysed at the scene by the police.
Unfortunately, the outdoor part of the programme was cut short by severe weather conditions requiring urgent transfer of pupils indoors.
Indoors, the pupils and guests listened to challenging presentations from representatives of the Emergency Services. Inspector Steven Haslett, North Region Road Policing Commander, PSNI, reviewed statistics for road deaths in Northern Ireland reporting 74 deaths in 2015, 12 deaths already in two months of 2016, and over 9,000 recorded road traffic casualties each year in the province.
A very large proportion of accidents affected young people in 16-24 age group, particularly young male drivers. Inspector Haslett outlined the main causes of road accidents as speed, inattention, mobile phones, alcohol or drugs and careless driving, and warned that all drivers involved in road accidents were likely to be breathalysed for alcohol consumption.
He challenged the pupils and guests to demand safe driving by themselves and other drivers. He stressed that, unlike the pupils attending the accident scene that day, most people who are involved in road accidents were not able to just ‘walk away’ from the scene.
Jason Craig from NI Fire and Rescue Service and Brian Mulligan from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service gave presentations detailing the expert care their services provided to trapped and injured road traffic casualties. They highlighted that careless driving often led to situations which placed their teams in danger, sometimes in extreme weather, and that many of their staff were volunteers, called out at unsocial hours.
Consultant Anaesthetist and Rotarian, Paul Loan, gave an outline of the emergency hospital care given to casualties and the ranges of injuries sustained, including nonvisible severe brain trauma with long lasting and life- changing effects.
Rotary Past District Governor, Philip Beggs, talked about his personal experience of the shock of having ‘a knock on the door’ when police informed him of serious driving accident involving one of his own family.
Ballymoney Rotary Club would like to thank all those people who assisted in organising and contributing to this event: Sammy Montgomery and the staff of the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre; all three School Principals; teachers and three pupil ‘casualty victim’ actors; Syd Henry, PSNI Education Officer; Jason Craig, NI Fire service; the above mentioned speakers and guests; Translink; Causeway Coast and Glens Council and all the personnel from PSNI, Fire Service and Ambulance Service who took part in the outdoor mock accident event.
The overall aim of this event was to save JUST ONE LIFE.