FOX VALLEY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Calumet County, Fond du Lac County, Outagamie County, Winnebago County

ThedaCare FOCUS program warns teens about distracted driving

From the Local 5 Digital Desk

NEENAH, Wis. (WFRV) – It started over 20 years ago to educate new drivers about the dangers of drinking and driving. Now it has developed to include a prevalent problem in society… distracted driving.  

P.A.R.T.Y at the PAC was created by the Trauma Center team at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center in Neenah to empower students to make safe choices by shedding light on the consequences of risky behavior while driving and the often life-changing outcomes.

While the core of the program remains the same – to educate, engage, and safe lives, P.A.R.T.Y at the PAC has rebranded its name to FOCUS, which stands for:

Focus on driving
Others are affected
Clear distractions
Understand that substances impair judgment
Safely reach your destination

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ThedaCare System Trauma Medical Director, Ray Georgen, MD says, “The new FOCUS name is meant to be more indicative of the program itself.” Dr. Georgen says it will allow them to connect with students on a more straight-forward name to better emphasize the initiatives important to the region.

Dr. Georgen told Local 5, many years ago, the Trauma Center identified the fact that teenagers were involved in a significant number of car crashes. “You have to be able to get a teenager’s attention and leave them with certain messages.”

Happening exclusively at the Fox Cities PAC, ThedaCare Trauma staff, and Emergency Responders take students on a day in the life of what happens to not only themselves but to others when bad decisions are made behind the wheel.

Participants re-create real life scenes complete with wrecked cars, and patients being attended to by Emergency Department staff.

A particularly poignant part of the presentation is when past drivers and injury survivors speak on how one moment changed their entire lives. “You can hear a pin drop in the PAC,” says Dr. Georgen. “That’s a big event when you’ve got several thousand teenagers… it really brings home the message.”

The program has reached two generations, over 80,000 new drivers since its inception. High school students from all over Northeast Wisconsin come to watch the moving presentation.

“Teenagers are the future of our society,” Dr. Georgen told Local 5. “Every minute we put into it is worth it… you save a 16-year-old’s life, that’s a many, many year save… and hopefully they will go on to live a fruitful life.”

At this time, the FOCUS program is scheduled to be held at the Fox Cities PAC October 20 – 21, 2020. For the latest updates, head to thedacare.org.

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