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First responder fathers take part in mock accident demonstration at Pictou County high school

First responders put on a mock accident demonstration at Northumberland Regional High School to warn graduating students of the dangers of drinking and driving.
First responders put on a mock accident demonstration at Northumberland Regional High School to warn graduating students of the dangers of drinking and driving. - Adam MacInnis
ALMA, N.S. —

Bill Chace and Gordie Sutherland are Westville firefighters – first responders. They’re trained to help when emergencies of various kinds happen, whether it be a house fire or a multiple car accident.

And in that role they were busy on Friday along with other area first responders hosting a demonstrations for students at Northumberland Regional High School in Alma, Pictou County to warn about the dangers of drunk driving. It’s a demonstration that’s held every year. Every grad class is taken through what happens at an accident scene, from the first call to 911 to the arrest of drivers suspected of being impaired to the complete dismantling of the vehicle using Jaws of Life. For guys like Chace and Sutherland it’s a routine procedure, but it’s also particularly personal this year. This year their daughters are graduating.

Bill Chace, right, and Gordie Sutherland, left, with Gordie’s daughter Ashton and Chace’s daughter Madison. The fathers took part in a mock accident demonstration at Northumberland Regional High School, where their daughters are graduating this year.
Bill Chace, right, and Gordie Sutherland, left, with Gordie’s daughter Ashton and Chace’s daughter Madison. The fathers took part in a mock accident demonstration at Northumberland Regional High School, where their daughters are graduating this year.

Chace admits that being a first responder and knowing the dangers that can happen can in some ways make him nervous, but he knows his daughter knows the risks.

“Being a daughter of a first responder she’s seen what the fire department and other first responders go through after the fact,” he said.

The message he wants to send to students graduating along with his daughter is this: “Enjoy your graduation. Be smart. Don’t do something you’ll regret for the rest of your life. Don’t be scared to call your parents to come get you.”

Sutherland said there are times when he worries when his daughter goes out in their car or someone else’s, but like Chace, says that growing up in the home of a first responder has made her well aware of the dangers.

“She’s been coming to the fire hall with me since she was 12 years old,” he said. “She knows the deal.”

He hopes that Friday’s demonstration makes all the students aware and if even one student is saved from being in an accident, he said the first responders’ time will have been well spent.

“Nobody goes out thinking they’re going to die that day. But it happens.”

His daughter, Ashton agrees, and hopes that her classmates paid attention.

“A lot of people our age think that they’re invincible and that it’s not going to happen to them, but it could happen to anybody,” she said. “Growing up with a dad as a firefighter it makes you more aware and it kind of makes you tell people and try to get it in other people’s heads that it can happen. It’s scary when it does.”

Bill Chace’s daughter Madison said every time she hears the tone go off letting her father know there’s an emergency, she thinks of the people involved, but also worries for her dad.

“You always want to make sure they come home safely too.”

That’s why she’s opposed to drinking and driving.

“Just never do it. Honestly, it’s not worth it,” she says.

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