When Elbert County Sheriff Shayne Heap attended a safety fair in Littleton six years ago, he decided that holding a similar event in Elbert County would be a good idea. Since 2011, the sheriff and his staff have done just that.
It was estimated …
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It was estimated that 400 people crowded the Walmart parking lot in Elizabeth during the first two hours of the four-hour event June 13 to visit vendors with safety and security products, private healthcare providers and public services, along with demonstrations from first responders, such as the Elizabeth Fire Department and the Elbert County Sheriff's Office.
One of the most popular stations was the Simulated Impaired Driving Experience. SIDNE is a two-person electric go-cart that can be adjusted by a remote control to settings that restrict speed and simulate reaction times for a driver who is impaired.
At the normal settings, the SIDNE is as easy to drive as a go-cart with tight breaks, but when the vehicle is set to mimic the delayed responses of a driver with a blood alcohol level of between 0.04 and 0.07, it becomes nearly impossible to control even on the simplest course.
The legal limit in Colorado for driving under the influence is 0.08, but alcohol affects different people in different ways. The one factor that is universal to everyone is the rate at which the body metabolizes alcohol.
“Regardless of a person's size, the human body can process one ounce of alcohol per hour,” said Elbert County Sheriff's Deputy Patrick Cillo. “That's one shot, a 12-ounce beer, or a 5-ounce glass of wine.”
According to Cillo, it's the wine that gets people into the most trouble. Most bars and restaurants pour a glass much larger than 5 ounces, so drivers who believe they have had one glass of wine may have had as much as 2 1/2 times what the liver can metabolize in an hour, and the SIDNE illustrates those effects.
Parker Adventist Hospital sponsored the SIDNE and was also on hand to provide free equine riding helmets for the asking. Registered Nurse Melissa Miller said that equine-riding accidents rank as one of the most common injuries prompting an emergency room visit to her hospital, ranking third behind injury falls and motor vehicle accidents.
The free helmets are funded by the hospital and are part of its safety outreach. Over the course of the four-hour event, staff from Parker Adventist gave away and sized 40 equine helmets.
At the invitation of the sheriff's office, the Colorado State Patrol was also on hand and was a popular stop. State trooper Derek Pollard inspected child car seats against recall records and for serviceability, replacing old or failing child car seats with free ones provided by the state patrol and the sheriff's office.
Pollard became a child seat technician during his first year on the job after responding to an accident where an improperly restrained toddler broke both of his arms.
He also demonstrated the effects of a 20 mph rollover crash on drivers wearing and not wearing seatbelts. In nearly all of his demonstrations, the dummy in the rollover simulator was ejected from the vehicle. According to the state patrol, an unrestrained occupant is the No. 1 contributor to car accident deaths in Colorado.
In addition to the seriousness of public safety, there were also some fun and games, which included a visit from Airlife's EMS Helicopter, jump castles and a dunk tank. Other organizations also took advantage of the opportunity to meet with the public, including the Elizabeth Board of Education, Legacy Academy and Cowboy Up Rodeo in Kiowa.
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