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Rob Rhamy
IU Student Foundation

George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Organizers hope 'crash' during Little 500 quals saves lives, raises awareness about impaired driving

March 21, 2006

Photo by: Chris Meyer/ IU Home Pages

Print-Quality Photo

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Many Indiana University students cheering for their favorite bike teams during Saturday's (March 25) Little 500 race qualifications are aware of the risks riders face with crashes on race day. Some IU students who volunteer as emergency medical workers on race day will stage a wreck of their own Saturday, one which they hope will prevent accidents and injuries resulting from driving any vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The IU Emergency Medical Service, which will assist health care professionals during Little 500 races on April 21-22, will stage a mock car crash involving several vehicles in the parking lot between the Harry Gladstein Fieldhouse and the IU Tennis Center and across Fee Lane from Armstrong Stadium.

Little 500 qualifications will begin at 8 a.m. and continue until about 6 p.m. The mock car crash will be staged during an intermission at 2 p.m. Students will be encouraged to leave the track to attend and also have been formally invited through their teams and the residence halls.

"I think it is vital that students see first-hand the reality of what their actions may cause," said Amanda Levinson, vice president of IU-EMS and a student from Chesterfield. Mo. "Many students believe that they are indestructible, but hopefully this event will be an eye-opening experience that will lead them to make the right choices in the future."

With the assistance of Teen Life Productions, IU-EMS students will be made up to portray victims in real wrecked cars set up in the parking lot. Local emergency medical services, including the Lifeline helicopter, will respond to the scene, and some of the victims will leave in body bags in a hearse.

The Indiana chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions also will set up an impaired driving course with golf carts and have informational tables in the Armstrong Stadium parking lot. The national Save A Life Tour is bringing its immersive, multi-screen drunk driving computer simulator that allows students to experience driving as their level of intoxication increases.

IU-EMS has provided emergency medical services at IU campus events since 1994 in cooperation with the Bloomington Hospital Ambulance Service. Supported by the IU Student Foundation, it is operated and managed by IU students, like the Little 500.

IU officials and race organizers realize that for some persons alcohol is part of race weekend activities, but they noted that there have been fewer drinking-related incidents in recent years. They say that Saturday's dramatic demonstration of the effects of alcohol is part of enhanced efforts to educate students and is especially noteworthy since the idea came from students.

"We hope that this realistic demonstration leads students and their guests to use good judgment during race week, so as not to distract attention from the more than 400 IU students competing in the race, who have logged hundreds of hours of practice and training year-round," said Rob Rhamy, director of IU Student Foundation.

"We can all contribute to creating a safer campus community. I appreciate the efforts of these groups to step up and do their part," added Richard McKaig, vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students at IU Bloomington.

The Little 500 bicycle race began 56 years ago as a way to raise scholarship money for working students. It has been the subject of an Academy Award-winning film and numerous news reports and sports broadcasts. Today, it is the premier intramural collegiate cycling event in the nation and has raised more than $1 million in scholarships for working IU students.

Other Little 500-related events include the Miss-N-Out competition on April 1 and the Team Pursuit competition on April 6, both at Armstrong Stadium; the Little Fifty foot race on April 15 at IU's Haugh Outdoor Track Complex; and the Bill Armstrong Memorial Golf Classic on April 21 at the IU Golf Course.