“It sticks with you”: Responders hope realities behind ‘Prom Promise’ leave a mark

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HOLLYWOOD, Ala. (WHNT) -- Jackson County responders are showing high school seniors how quickly their lives can change with a bad decision in a real-life scenario.

Behind one of Jackson County's schools in Hollywood, Hollywood Fire and Rescue work on two cars. The cars are mangled and crashed, windows are broken.

The responders have several minutes before the students file outside for the simulation these responders hope they take to heart. "We've got a wreck scene set up for the kids, for Prom Promise, to show how easy it is to get yourself killed drinking and driving," Chief Patrick Allen says.

A video can show one thing. What Chief Allen and other responders are setting up for the county's high school students is real life.

With the students' classmates as actors and multiple other agencies also responding, the department is showing just how quickly life can change with a bad decision.

As the students start to file outside, a fog machine clicks on, shadowing the students in the mangled cars with smoke. Ambulances, police cars, and fire trucks pull up. Responders jump out and run to the cars.

With the acting students calling for help it is a simulation that is real life for the responders, and it's a situation the responders hope the students watching never experience. "The look in the kids eyes, how real it looks. I think it's getting to them, what drinking and driving will really do to somebody, how it can take their life away," Chief Allen says.

The simulation is just that -- a scenario -- but it's one that in real life, doesn't fade for responders like Allen. "It's hard. It sticks with you. It really does," he says.

The department and other agencies are putting on this Prom Promise in the hopes the chilling display of what could easily become reality is apparent for the students, and they remember it. "Every year there's a senior that gets killed in some high school and we don't want it to happen any more," Chief Allen says.

The department plans to make the event something they do every year.