Fire Academy students demonstrate CPR as Billy Martin simulates a sudden cardiac event.

Even to those privy to the plan beforehand, the scene in front of Marathon High School on the morning of April 21 left several mental images that will be hard to forget.

Sponsored by the MHS Champions for Change Club in partnership with the Monroe County Sheriff and Marathon Fire Rescue, students were called out of their classrooms to observe a staged emergency response to a drunk driving crash.

With Marathon Fire Academy students participating as a training exercise, onlookers watched as the jaws of life were deployed to free injured students, an intoxicated driver was given field sobriety tests and taken into custody, and emergency responders dealt with the tragic fallout of passengers “killed” on impact and in the immediate aftermath of the crash. The club followed up the demonstration with an assembly featuring substance abuse simulations and a presentation by MCSO.

AAA auto club statistics show that 39% of high school teenagers admit they or their friends will be under the influence during prom and graduation, and 87% of teens believe their peers are likely to drive impaired instead of calling an adult for a ride. Thankfully, a safe and enjoyable MHS prom followed the demonstration just two days later.

Photos by ALEX RICKERT/Keys Weekly

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Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.