TINKER AIR FORCE BASE - Okla. --
Every 12 seconds, someone in America is killed in a car accident.
That sobering statistic was one of many offered in a safety briefing that was part of the 552nd Air Control Wing's Comprehensive Airman Fitness Day Sept. 26.
The briefing, presented by two firefighters from Florida, began with a warning that the material is explicit, graphic, bloody and disturbing. The attendees were also warned that if anyone felt nauseated or as though they were going to pass out or vomit, to put their hand up for help or head for the exit, if they were able.
Lieutenants Vince Easevoli and Ralph Jimenez, founder and co-founder of S.A.F.E. (Staying Alive From Education), came to Tinker from Miami to give their award winning "Street Smart" presentation, as they do at schools and military bases across the nation.
"This was an exceptional briefing on the dangers of distracted, intoxicated and unrestrained driving," said Lt. Col. Jonathan McGowen, 552nd ACW Safety Office. "It certainly captured everyone's attention and left a lasting impression."
The lieutenants set out to show everyone what happens when a driver is impaired either by alcohol, drugs or distracted driving and what happens when just one person in the car is not wearing a seatbelt. The presentation was extremely graphic in nature, and hammered home their main point -- make good decisions or you could die.
As a slideshow of car accident photographs was shown to the audience, Lieutenant Easevoli said, "All the graphic pictures we're showing are things we see every day, and sadly, most of these trauma cases could have been prevented."
The lieutenants went through the effects of alcohol and drugs on the system and how those intoxicants impair judgment. They talked about the excuses people have for not wearing a seatbelt. You've heard it all before -- then they showed photographs of victims in the crashes.
Lieutenant Jimenez asked the audience if everyone wore their seatbelts when riding in a taxi. "It only takes one unrestrained occupant to kill everyone in the car," he said. To highlight the point, he showed a dash-cam video of a cab driver flying into the back seat during a crash because he wasn't wearing a seatbelt.
Sobering, too, is the amount of people still texting and being distracted while driving.
At any given daylight moment in America, approximately 660,000 drivers are on cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, they said.
As for texting while driving, when sending or receiving texts, drivers take their eyes off the road for approximately 4.6 seconds. In that amount of time, traveling at just 55 mph, that takes you the length of a football field -- blind. "A lot can happen in that short amount of time," said Lieutenant Easevoli.
Like it says on the S.A.F.E website, "You can't LOL dead."
To drive home their point and really get the audience thinking, the lieutenants chose Airman 1st Class Matt Davis, 965th Airborne Air Control Squadron, as a volunteer from the audience.
Airman Davis was put through a scenario of going to a party, having lots of drinks with his buddies, mixing the drinks and then receiving the call from his wife to get home.
During the ride home, he is involved in a car accident and the lieutenants are the first responders. They told the audience a few ways this could play out for poor Airman Davis. He could just be dead on arrival. Done and done.
The second scenario gets more graphic and the audience is again warned of the graphic nature of the injuries and their description.
Airman Davis is strapped to a body board and the paramedics begin to work, while describing it all in detail. A member of the audience passed out cold when Lieutenant Jimenez brought out a giant needle.
Perhaps more so than the very detailed description of events, the most graphic realization comes when Lieutenant Easevoli knocks on the door to give the news to his wife and mother after doing everything they could to save him, Airman Davis has passed away.
"It won't set in for the family there at the door. It won't happen until they are at the morgue and the mother will speak up to say, 'That is my baby boy,'" the lieutenant said.
"It got serious when Vinnie and Ralph were talking about my wife and kids," said Airman Davis. "That freaked me out being strapped down to that board."
In another scenario, Airman Davis survives, but he's now a quadriplegic.
"You'll be dependent on someone to feed you and bathe you the rest of your life," said Lieutenant Easevoli. "The medical bills will reach hundreds of thousands annually, and you will never hold your kids again or be able to teach them anything."
In yet another scenario, Airman Davis survives, but gets the news he has killed two people. Now, he'll spend the next 22 years or so in prison for vehicular manslaughter, carrying the guilt with him forever.
"There is NO excuse. You guys are a team, take the wingman concept seriously, be proactive," said Lieutenant Easevoli. "Don't drink and drive, or do drugs, don't be a distracted driver, and make sure everyone in the car has a seatbelt on at all times."