MIDDLETOWN – More than 4,000 area high school students a “Rude Awakening” this prom season about the life-altering decisions caused by the misuse of alcohol and drugs.

“Our goal is to empower every student to make safe choices this prom season,” said Cpl. James Roese, who coordinates the program for the Middletown Police Department’s Traffic Safety Bureau. “The goal is to give students a vivid mental image of what happens when alcohol and drugs are mixed with driving a vehicle.”

Rude Awakening uses a three-pronged approach to drive the point home. Hands-on activities that make use of DWI Fatal Vision while operating golf carts give students an understanding of how it feels to drive drunk. An assembly program outlines what really happens in a car crash, the hospital, the court room and how a DWI conviction can haunt offenders for a lifetime. Students then a witness live demonstration of response to an accident, and cars dropped from a crane to simulate speed at impact, he said.

The program will be held April through June at Middletown’s public and private high schools. Participating schools are Christian Brothers Academy, Mater Dei High School, Middletown High School South, Middletown High School North, High Tech High, and M.A.S.T., which is located on Sandy Hook. The Mater Dei High School presentation includes students from St. John Vianney.HH and Raritan High Schools. The presentation at M.A.S.T., includes high school students from Holmdel, Keansburg, Ocean Township, and Red Bank Catholic. The presentation at High Tech High School includes high schools students from Bio Tech H.S., Communications H.S., Allied Health, and Keyport. (Schedule attached)

During the outdoor demonstration of response to an accident, students portray victims while Middletown police, fire and first aid and paramedics respond to the mock accident, and extricate the victims from the car using the Jaws of Life. Different accident scenarios are demonstrated at each location. At some locations, victims will then be evacuated from the scene by a state police medivac helicopter. Air bag deployment demonstrations are also held at all locations.

All students receive a booklet entitled “Drug and Alcohol Awareness Facts.” The booklet includes information about driving while intoxicated, underage drinking, illegal drug use and the penalties associated with each; the Graduated Driver’s License Program; and Crossroads at Croydon Hall, the township’s substance abuse program.

“We need all students to understand that misuse of alcohol or drugs ruins lives,” said Roese. “One mistake can have live-long repercussions. Jail, steep fines, insurance surcharges could all be in an offender’s future.”

Rude Awakening, now in its 16th consecutive year, has been recognized by the state of New Jersey, Parade Magazine and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The Police Department (Traffic Safety Unit, Auxiliary, Police and Fire) work in concert with public and private schools, the Middletown First Aid and Fire Departments, Middletown Emergency Management and its Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), paramedics, NJSP Aviation Unit, Brookdale Community College Police Department, Atlantic Highlands Police Department, Highlands Police Department, Rumson Police Department, Fair Haven Police Department, the National Park Service Sandy Hook, United States Coast Guard, United States Marine Corps, local hospitals and the PTA to offer the program, explained Police Chief Robert Oches.

Rude Awakening is funded largely by private donations and made possible through the efforts of hundreds of volunteers. Call Rude Awakening Coordinator Cpl James Roese at 732-615-2049 to find out how you can help.