Paramedic’s cautionary tales to NPSS students about driving safety hits home

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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Students at North Peace Secondary School got to hear and see some of the horrific consequences of impaired and distracted driving during a presentation on Thursday by one of ICBC’s road safety speakers, though last week’s tragedy in Saskatchewan meant that message was toned down somewhat.

Ted Swan is now in his 30th year working as a paramedic in B.C., and has been giving presentations to senior high school students across the province for 17 years. Before speaking at NPSS, Swan spoke to students in Chetwynd, Tumbler Ridge, Dawson Creek, and Fort Nelson, before wrapping up in Hudson’s Hope on Thursday afternoon. 

Thursday’s presentation on road safety began with a moment of silence to honour the victims of last Friday’s crash that claimed the lives of 16 members of the Humboldt Broncos Junior hockey team. Swan then began educating the students who had packed the gym’s bleachers about what to expect if they’re involved in a collision. 

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Swan described some of the injuries a vehicle’s occupants would sustain in a crash, and the subsequent medical procedures they’d undergo in hospital. One moment that got a reaction of the male members of the crowd in particular came during Swan’s illustration of the size of a uretic catheter.

Paramedic and ICBC road safety speaker Ted Swan holds up a catheter during a presentation at NPSS on Thursday. Photo by Chris Newton

According to ICBC statistics, between April and June every year there are about 410 crashes in Northern B.C. involving people between the ages of 16 and 21, resulting in an average of 80 injuries. Statistics show that speeding, distracted driving, and impaired driving are the three leading causes of car crashes on B.C. roads.

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Swan explained after that he did tweak his presentation after last week’s bus crash.

Paramedic Ted Swan joins students and faculty at North Peace Secondary School in a group photo after Swan’s presentation on Jersey Day. Photo by Chris Newton.

“I did pull some punches, I did not give them the full presentation due to that. The energy here was very sombre, and rightly so. I know what it’s like as a first responder to go to a multi-casualty incident.”

Swan said that the proportion of teenagers getting their driver’s licenses is higher in Northeast B.C. than on the coast, and that they’re getting their licenses earlier. He added that after 17 years of giving his presentation, more and more youth are getting the message about the dangers of impaired and distracted driving. 

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