At 11 a.m. last Thursday, a drawn-looking young man sat in the Blink Duck. A tubular mesh sling immobilized his left arm against his chest. White gauze circled his forehead. Blood seeped through the bandages. His bandaged right hand was missing a thumb. He fumbled with his fork
This boy was one of 14 UTM student participants in It Could Have Been You, the Peer Heath Educators Drug Awareness Week program. It Could Have Been You was a collaboration between the Peer Health Educators of the Health and Counseling Center and the Erindale College Special Response Team, ECSpeRT.
In addition to the bandaging and make-up skillfully executed by the ECSpeRT crew, PHEs and ECSpeRT members manned two tables in the Meeting Place to answer questions and provide curious students with information and resources. The injured participants were asked to go about their daily business as though nothing was wrong. When concerned peers asked what had happened, the tight-lipped participants handed them a card that directed them to the Meeting Place.
The Peer Heath Educators showed students how to detect an impaired driver, what to do in such a case, and what are the alternatives to getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. At the ECSpeRT table, students could experience being put into a spinal column or wearing a neck brace, another gentle deterrent.
The idea is to put the experience where people cant ignore it. Right in their faces, said Amy Jin of ECSpeRT. Its not only the drunk drivers that get hurt. A lot of the time, the drunk drivers are far less injured than the poor motorists and pedestrians that come into contact with them. Every day, 206 people are injured in alcohol-related car crashes in Canada. An additional four are killed.
Stephanie Falcone, the leader of the PHEs drug and alcohol team, said, We want to counter the that wont or cant happen to me mentality that many students hold. By having a seriously injured person sit next to you in lecture struggling to function with a busted arm and head wounds—or even just standing behind you at Timmys—the PHE is hoping to burst that illusory safety bubble.
According to Falcone, the It Could Have Been You event will be a yearly occurrence. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate.