Jaws of Life demonstration is a powerful prevention tactic in B-P driver’s ed class

Students react as they see and hear an airbag being deployed during a driver's education demonstration.

Students react as they see and hear an airbag being deployed during a driver’s education demonstration.

Have you ever seen an airbag set off in a vehicle?

Before Friday, most of the teenagers in Broadalbin-Perth’s driver’s education course had not. So when the district Transportation Department’s lead mechanic Dave Skellie deployed one as part of a demonstration for the course, it definitely shocked some of the students.

That was just step one. Then members of the Broadalbin-Kennyetto Fire Company and the Perth Volunteer Fire Company tore the roof, windshield and doors off of a donated car using the Jaws of Life and other hydraulic tools. It was meant to show the students what emergency responders to do to save vehicle crash victims who are trapped.

“Just seeing the airbag deployed was traumatic enough,” B-P high school senior Danielle Winney said.

Firefighters remove the vehicle roof.

“It’s traumatic to go through a car crash, and after that, you have to go through all of this? It’s scary,” senior Will Austin said.

“It’s crazy that all of this goes on while you’re still inside the car,” senior Marcos Viera said.

The volunteer firemen said they gladly gave up their day to help make the students think twice when they’re behind the wheel. Broadalbin-Kennyetto Fire Chief Scot Hall told the student drivers that in the past, there were 17 fatal motor vehicle crashes in his fire district in just one year. Some firefighters said they’ve responded to more than 100 vehicle crash fatalities during their careers.

“This demonstration is about as serious as it gets,” course instructor Dave Wiltey said. “We are fortunate to have a tremendous community that works together to make our students better drivers.”

Driver's Ed Instructor Dave Wiltey speaks to students during the demonstration.

Driver’s Ed Instructor Dave Wiltey speaks to students during the demonstration.

Wiltey handed out business cards for Springer’s Towing & Recovery Flatbed Service of Broadalbin, in case the students ever need their vehicles towed. Springer’s also donated the car that was used during the demonstration. He credited the firefighters as the community’s “true heroes,” and showed gratitude to the district’s Transportation Department employees for pausing their work and opening up their facility to host and take part in the demonstration.

Driving Instructor David D’Amore said the demo gave students an up-close look at how hard the firefighters have to work to save lives. Wiltey had one of the students pick up a hydraulic tools to show how heavy it was.

“It’s something I wouldn’t want to go through, or put someone else through,” senior Alyssa Mosher said. “This course has definitely helped me learn a lot.”