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In every profession, there are some projects you work on that are just more "important" than others; projects that become less of a work task, and more a responsibility. Into my lap a couple of weeks back fell a story about Reliable Churchill funding a new PSA (public service announcement) video for the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. Commonly known as "Maryland Shock Trauma," it's the place on the news where you hear people taken to or flown to when they have been in very bad accidents. It's also the place where you as a parent do NOT want to get a call from in the middle of the night or anytime of the day or evening.
The executives and employees of Reliable Churchill know that. In fact, management had been looking to do something along the lines of a video that was dramatic and immediate and real for some time. The result is "Someone Like You," a 12-minute presentation that the company and Shock Trauma are hoping gets seen at every high school and in every Driver's Education class in the state.
"This goes beyond corporate social responsibility," said Reliable Churchill Chairman James "Jimmy" Smith, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal. "We're parents here at Reliable Churchill. This was something we felt very strongly about…not only did [Reliable Churchill] finance the project but every meeting with the DMV or at a school system, myself or someone else from Reliable Churchill was in attendance. Our company wants to see this project succeed."
The project leader on this was Tara Reed Carlson, Business Development Manager at Shock Trauma Center. "It was really nice partnering with someone in your industry," she said. "Reliable Churchill gave us an unrestricted educational grant, which we used to produce this piece. We need such partners in the community to get these things accomplished and to get this message out."
"Someone Like You" is a simple, yet powerful piece that is far removed from the easily parodied "Blood on the Highway" videos many Baby Boomers and Generation X'ers grew up with. Shot in High Definition, there is some brief footage of real accident scenes and a few fleeting, yet graphic snippets of bloody injuries being tended to in the operating room. Most effective, though, are the real people who appear on camera who have been directly impacted by alcohol-related automobile accidents. One young man has lost mobility in his arm and on one side of his body as a result of a drunk driving crash that claimed the life of his friend. Two parents who were vacationing at the time their once-athletic son got behind the wheel after having some drinks are also featured. The son is now impaired as a result of his injuries.
Smith remarked, "One of the things that young man said in the video was, 'It's not that I decided to go out and drink and drive.' He went out to have a good time with his friends. But then he had to get home."
Carlson added, "That really sums it all up. He didn't have a plan of how to get home, and that's part of the message of 'Someone Like You.' . . . I do think we've made some progress in impaired driving. I think many more people know to not drive home, to get a designated driver. We also have a lot more options like Tipsy Taxi. But more has to be done. We really try to do primary prevention outreach to kids before they make a bad decision to either drink or do drugs and get behind the wheel."
The stories in the video are punctuated by the somber, grim on-camera narration of Dr. Mayer Narayan, Medical Director for Shock Trauma's Center for Injury Prevention and Policy. "The absolute hardest part of my job," he stated, "is telling mothers and fathers that despite all of our best efforts, we were not able to save their son or their daughter. This is why we made this video. This is why I am part of it."
It now falls on Carlson and her staff to get the video seen. She has already met with decision-makers at Maryland's Motor Vehicle Administration and shown them the video. "They are looking at their curriculum for the impaired driving component of their Driver's Educations classes. They're not going to let me know until, I think, February. But they were impressed with what I showed them."
She continued, "As far as getting the video into schools, we have been reaching out through a lot of different avenues. I met with the superintendents of the schools and showed them the video, so I could let them know what we are trying to do to get this message to students before something tragic happens. Certainly, there is prom season and graduations and everything that happens in the spring. It's not a standalone piece either, and we don't feel it's a standalone piece. We have it as part of our prevention and education programs for the schools. We actually have a 45-minute program for the high schools. A trauma nurse, who research shows is a very reliable source of prevention education, will come to talk to them about choices and decision-making and show the video. Another component of that is to bring a survivor to share their inspirational, personal story about being involved in an alcohol-related accident either themselves or being hit by someone impaired. They share that story as a teen/young adult to other teens, which I think is a really powerful piece of it, too."
Narayan concluded, "I think the title is key, too. 'Someone Like You.' We wanted to show teens that these kids in the video were once just like them. They thought they were invincible."
Pictured below are: Reliable Churchill Chairman James "Jimmy" Smith (r); Dr. Mayur Narayan, Medical Director for Shock Trauma's Center for Injury Prevention and Policy; and Tara Reed Carlson, Business Development Manager at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.