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Students Take Vehicular Safety to Heart

A parent from a neighboring county relays the heartbreaking story of her son's tragic accident that resulted in the loss of her only child.

“Parkwood High School, you are our future." With that parting remark, Bobby Bulla ended his presentation to thunderous applause on the beautiful afternoon of October 28th in the Parkwood High School front parking lot. The sophomores, juniors and seniors were gathered there to experience the second part of the VIP for a VIP program. VIP for a VIP stands for Vehicle Injury Prevention for a Very Important Person. It has been in existence since 1998 and the purpose of the program is to promote safe driving decisions.

The VIP moderator for the presentation was Bobby Bulla, a charismatic man who is retired from the High Point Fire Department. He now travels from school to school speaking to teenagers about what can happen when a driver makes a bad decision. For example, it only takes a second to buckle your seatbelt. But when a driver chooses not to do so, the result can be devastating and far-reaching for not only that individual, but parents, EMS workers, friends, school officials and many others.

In the morning, all sophomores, juniors and seniors gathered in the auditorium to hear Bulla and a panel of speakers from local law enforcement agencies. Included among the speakers was a state trooper who explained to students that although he does not enjoy issuing tickets, the goal is to change behavior. A representative from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission even discussed boating accidents and shared that ninety percent of drownings were because the individuals were not wearing lifejackets. There were also very moving speeches by two mothers who lost their teenage sons in car accidents. After listening to the speakers, the students watched some powerful video presentations and heard sobering statistics about accidents involving teen drivers. The morning session ended with members of the Parkwood AFJROTC colorguard uncovering a casket.

That afternoon, the students reassembled outside on bleachers to observe a reenactment of a fatal car accident, complete with an “injured” driver (an actor) at the wheel, smoke and all sorts of emergency vehicles arriving on the scene. EMS workers find the “victim” pinned in the vehicle so they must cut the door and roof off to get him out. Students watched as rescuers performed CPR as the parents of the teen arrived. The patient dies and parents scream and cry as his body is placed in a body bag and loaded into a real ambulance. The whole scene, although fabricated, was eerily close to real-life and was difficult to watch. Viewers couldn’t help but be affected by the screams of the victim’s “mother” as her son was taken away. The person playing the part of the victim, in reality, was Edward, a volunteer and a member of the Mineral Springs and Wingate Fire Department. The woman who played the role of the mother, Jenny Zayonce, is from Trinity, N.C.. She has traveled with the program for six years, acting and doing the makeup. She found out about the VIP for a VIP program through Bobby Bulla, who was her son’s football coach at the time. “I loved what the program meant and I wanted to be a part of it.”says Zayonce.

Bulla, the moderator, ended the program by speaking candidly to the students. He pointed out that some teenagers have a sense of invincibility and feel that a tragedy couldn’t happen to them. But Bulla has seen tragedy involving teenagers too many times. “ I know my message will not sink in for some of you,” he says sadly. “But my hope is that it reaches most of you.” Senior student Jack Ruth thought the program was effective. ” It will get people to stop texting on the road and make smarter choices.” he said. Junior Malaysia Boulware also thought the program was well-done and “will make people think”.

Bulla says this was the 210th time VIP for a VIP has presented the program and estimated that around 130,000 students have heard it. He will continue to present between 32 and 34 programs each season. The students took home a contract for life to read and talk over with their parents. The idea is for families to make a promise that students will drive safely and if the student finds him or herself in a situation where it would be unsafe to drive, the parents would come and pick them up without a confrontation. Crystal Bell, mother of Parkwood sophomore Faolan McGee, participated in the reenactment. She is a paramedic and has worked with the Mineral Springs Fire Department for four years. She said, “It’s eye-opening for the students to see what happens in a real-life accident. They don’t realize how it affects everyone: the parents, EMS workers and firefighters as well as the victims.” 

Written by: Lisa Moniz, Library Media Coordinator
Posted: Oct 29, 2014 by Lisa Moniz

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