Junior firefighter stages mock-accident for fellow Greensburg Salem students
Brandon Perfetta, a Greensburg Salem junior, kept thinking of his classmates when asked three months ago about an idea for a service project.
He then spent hours making telephone calls and bringing together more than 30 emergency responders to show seniors and juniors at his high school what can happen when a driver drinks alcohol.
Perfetta, a junior firefighter with the Slickville Volunteer Fire Department, organized an accident drill that was held Tuesday outside the high school.
“I wanted to say, ‘Look, drunk driving causes a lot of bad things,'” Perfetta said. “The more we can promote it, the fewer people who die.”
He made his suggestion during his Greensburg Salem advisory class, a district program promoting service, scholarship, leadership and character.
Perfetta wanted to hold the drill this week ahead of the school prom, to be held tonight.
“I owe him big time,” said Brittany Meyer, his adviser for Class 119. “He is very dedicated. Without him, this wouldn't be possible.”
Perfetta got telephone numbers from Slickville fire Chief Rich Balik to begin organizing the drill.
“He did it all on his own, all of it,” Balik said. “He put a lot of work in this.
“I'm very proud of him,” the chief added. “This is very, very important that all the kids see what goes on when we respond to this type of call.”
In the drill scenario, four students go to a party, then decide to attend a baseball game. Two students in another vehicle decide to go to the same game.
En route, the two vehicles collide because of the drunken driver. Two students are dead at the scene, while others are taken by helicopter or ambulance to hospitals.
Narrator Scot Graham, Mutual Aid Ambulance supervisor, told the seniors and juniors who gathered near the “crash site” that his emergency responders see an accident related to drunken driving about once a week.
“If you walk away with anything ... this shows accidents can have ramifications for years,” Graham said.
Pointing to the two “deceased” students, Westmoreland County Coroner Ken Bacha told the students the body bags being used cost $11.
“Do you think your lives are worth more than $11?” Bacha asked the students. “I think so.”
Bacha and high school Principal Dave Zilli recalled two accidents in 2009 and 2010 that claimed the lives of four Greensburg Salem students. Zilli remembered taking a call from Bacha for one of those wrecks.
“I dropped on my knees and cried, because you are all ours,” Zilli told the students.
Bacha praised Perfetta for organizing the drill, which drew emergency responders from Greensburg, Slickville and Forbes Road fire departments, Mutual Aid, Stat MedEvac and others.
“I think it's great,” Bacha said. “It's a good in-your-face drill.”
“I think it's pretty impressive that someone took that kind of initiative,” Greensburg police Sgt. Chuck Irvin said. “It's a great idea to expose them to something like that. It should make a statement. It should make an impact to those willing to listen.”
Perfetta said he believes students got the message about drinking and driving. He said he deliberately picked some of the most popular students in the school to be “victims” to heighten the impact.
“You see one bad choice will make a difference, even if you think you're Superman,” Perfetta said.
Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or firstname.lastname@example.org.