Every 15 minutes

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ian Dudley
  • 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
Smoke drifted lazily over the deceptively serene scene of two wrecked cars. Amidst the twisted metal and white smoke, lay three unmoving bodies, with only the driver of the responsible vehicle conscious.

The sound of sirens soon shattered the silence as law enforcement personnel arrived and began to triage the injured teenagers. Within moments the area around the wrecked vehicles was swarming with firefighters, EMTs and police. Moving with practiced efficiency they had the injured teens extricated from the wreckage within minutes. 

This accident, based on real life events, was acted out for Cabrillo High School as part of the "Every 15 Minutes" program, April 21, highlighting that every 15 minutes someone dies in an alcohol related incident.

More than 35 Vandenberg personnel supported the event by volunteering their time and life experience to set-up and mentor the students, during the two-day affair.

Master Sgt. Daniel Basel, 4th Space Launch Squadron flight chief, was the event's guest speaker and shared with the students how his family was impacted by drunk driving.

"The driver of the Camry that hit my family died on impact," said Basel. "My dad had a broken hand, two broken ribs and a bruised abdomen. My stepmom suffered two broken ankles, seven broken ribs, a brain bleed, ruptured intestines and amnesia. My two-year-old niece had cracked vertebrae in her neck and back. And my nephew died in the impact; he was five."

The program was primarily aimed at local students, but it also served as a way for the base volunteers to bring the message back to Vandenberg.

"I am excited about the fact that we are helping the local community," said Roy Lapioli, 30th Space Wing civilian training manager. "But I was just as excited that the volunteers are going to bring this message back to the dorms and talk about it with their friends."

Every stage of the process was practiced with lifelike detail, from having a sheriff and chaplain inform parents that their child had been in an accident, to airlifting the most injured teen to a hospital.

The daughter of Master Sgt. Brian Pino, 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron distributions section supervisor, was one of the volunteer 'casualties' for the program and Pino was informed while at work that his daughter had 'died'.

"I lost sleep last night knowing it was going to happen," said Pino. "It's not real, but hearing the words from the sheriff, seeing the base chaplain, your commander and your first sergeant there, puts your emotions into overdrive. You know it's not real but it feels like your heart is going to burst out of your body."

In the closing of his speech, Basel gave Cabrillo High School students the same advice he gives his Airmen.

"Don't make that choice to drink and drive," said Basel. "It is not worth ruining your life, someone else's life, or your career."