We created the SafeTeen program to help teenagers understand the real danger of distracted driving. Working closely with local emergency services, student organizations, funeral homes, business leaders, and community and school officials, we simulate a terrible incident right on school grounds. The victims are actual classmates.

The students hear the 911 call, the sirens and equipment. They see the injured, the wreckage and emergency lights. They feel the downdraft from the helicopter rotors and watch us working quickly to save their friends’ lives. And they witness the anguish and hysteria of the responsible driver. It’s as real as it gets. So are the emotions—especially when a deceased friend is placed into a long, black hearse. The impression is powerful and lasting.

We perform six to ten re-enactments a year and as many as 300–400 students witness each one. They take weeks to plan and coordinate. Sometimes people are surprised that Boston MedFlight goes to such lengths to keep teenagers safe. But then, they’re also surprised to learn we’re a non-profit organization, doing anything and everything we can to save local families from ever needing our services firsthand. That’s a vital and equally lifesaving part of our mission.

How many incidents has SafeTeens helped prevent? There’s no way of knowing. One thing is for sure. The program gives communities and families a way to come together and address a devastating problem. That alone is worth the cost and effort.