“It came about several years ago. Some of the guys in our department came up with the Last Dance program. They help ... prevent high school seniors and juniors attending prom not to, hopefully prevent them from drinking and driving the night of prom,” Sgt. Laray Harris said.
Shown to juniors and seniors at each local high school, the program — and correlating video — warn of the dangers of drinking and driving. Updated last year for the first time in years, the newest addition will serve as a sequel. EMS will rotate out the videos so students do not see the same movie each year.
“The ‘Last Dance’ video is really the capstone mission for public education. I can’t think of any broader audience out there than the teenage driver because if they do like I did, you know, they make some really poor choices and mistakes when driving,” EMS Director Kevin Garren said. “Honestly, I think we’ve seen a decline in drinking and driving ..., and this video was pretty powerful last year. ... The peer pressure to drink is unreal, probably more than it was when I was a kid, but if we can stop one person from drinking and getting behind the wheel of an automobile and making that horrible mistake, I can’t think of any, you know, in a public safety agency, for us, that we can go out there and publish.”
With a goal of $5,000 in mind, EMS employees will be located at the intersections of Erwin Street and Cherokee Avenue; Church and Bartow streets; and Felton and Roving roads on Friday, Jan. 31, from 8 to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 to 4 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 1, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
While the department is looking to raise funds for the production of the new film, Harris said the agency receives outside support.
“We also have a lot of support from our community as well — our hair salon, our tuxedo place, prom dresses. Other big companies that have a lot of interaction with teens they help, a lot of support from them as well,” he said.
Such assistance also comes from a local high school graduate who will serve as the movie’s producer.
“This year, too, we’re also using a local guy, Wes Sherwin, who graduated from Woodland High School a few years ago. He’s going to be filming for us,” Taylor Forsyth said. “... We do the setting up of whatever scenes we do, finding locations. Then we also have a lot of help from other agencies that are willing to show up and be a part of the video if we need them to.”
Feedback from the updated program in 2013 has “all been positive,” he added.
“We had an opportunity last year when we shot our new video, a lot of the teachers and different staff from in the school were very impressed. ... We want to get feedback from them because they can tell us if it really impacted the kids,” Forsyth said. “... They’re telling us that the kids are talking about [the film], which is what we want. We want, when they leave that auditorium, for them to talk about it, to think about it, to think about the decisions they make and what the consequences of those decisions can be. ... In the end that’s what it’s all about, to get the awareness out there to them and hopefully we can prevent anymore of our high schoolers dying from making a bad decision like that.”
Donations for the bucket drive also will be accepted at EMS Station 1, 5435 Highway 20, Cartersville.
“If anyone is not out and about on either of those days or they miss us and they want to donate, we will be leaving a bucket at the front desk if they want to stop by here at station 1 and donate, we’ll be glad to have it,” EMS Public Awareness Coordinator Brad Cothran said.
For more information or to donate services, call 770-387-5160.