Every 15 minutes: Dramatic presentation coming to Los AL

Courtesy photo Every 15 Minutes simulates a collision with participants being rescued by first-responders.

By Michael Warren

“In 1997 a Youth Center participant, a high school junior, was vacationing in Washington State when she learned of this program,” says the Every 15 Minutes page on the Youth Center Website. “She thought it would be a great addition to the teen programming offered by the Youth Center.” Every 15 Minutes is a national organization that originally started in Canada and was later adopted in the U.S. in 1995 in Washington. The name comes from early 1990 statistics that indicate that an alcohol related driving accident occurs once every 15 minutes.

Since the spring of 1999, the Youth Center has implemented the program at Los Alamitos High School every year. However, due to COVID-19, the last time the program was at the high school was in 2019, meaning that, as of this year, no class on campus has seen this event. This program’s purpose is to introduce a discussion around driving under the influence and the dangers it poses
“Of the 200+ applications we receive, a total of 32 students representing a cross section of high school social groups and ethnicity are selected,” the Youth Center says.
“On Thursday, March 2, every fifteen minutes one student will be escorted out of class,” Lina Lumme, who spearheads the program, shared with Griffin Gazette. “A uniformed officer will read the student’s obituary and then accompany the student to a room on campus where makeup will be applied with the intent of representing ‘The Living Dead’” she also said. A mock cemetery will display tombstones of the “living dead” in the front of the PAC for the rest of the school to see.

“To enhance the realism of the event, the student will not return to class; this will help friends and classmates understand what it would feel like if that student had actually died,” shared Lina Lumme, The Youth Center CEO and Every 15 Minutes Program Coordinator.
At lunch during that day, a traffic collision will be simulated in front of the school. “Five students . . . involved in the collision will be made up by a professional artist to enhance the realism,” Lumme said. From there, all first-responders, including the Jaws-of-Life, firefighters, paramedics, and law enforcement, will handle the scene as if it were real.

“Two students will die on scene, one will be treated at the scene, and one will be transported to the hospital where they will later be pronounced dead. Parent participation in this event is critical and may include a police escort to the hospital. A fifth student will be given a field sobriety test, placed under arrest and taken to jail,” Lumme explained.
Families of the victims will be notified at their work or in their homes by police officers.
At the end of the day, all participants will go to Westminster courthouse for a mock trial where the family members of the deceased will testify and the “drunk driver” will be sentenced.

The next day, the school will attend an assembly to mourn the “living dead.”
“The assembly will include a short video and several speakers,” Lina said. “Counseling support services will be available as needed for students, parents and staff,” she assured. All throughout the program, Griffin News will record major events of the whole program then compile the videos into a singular video for the year. You can find videos of “Every 15 Minutes” from the high school and other high schools throughout the country on Youtube.
It is a massive effort from multiple different organizations including the Youth Center, the police department, fire department, and many more. “It’s an entire year of planning,” Lumme said, “we are thankful to Los Alamitos High School for playing an active part on the committee and all their support.” Overall, “Every 15 Minutes” is a fantastic program that the high school offers. “’Every 15 Minutes’ is just another one of the tools we use to get youth to make positive life choices,” the Youth Center website says. It is a very honest and unflinching approach to the extremely serious discussion of driving under the influence.
Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the national Highway Traffic Safety Administration.