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ILH Sudden Impact Program Receives CADA's Excellence in Prevention Award

Tracie Boutte, member of the CADA for Greater New Orleans Board of Directors, to the left, Bridget Gardner, RN, ILH Injury Prevention Program Coordinator, and Trooper Melissa Matey, Louisiana State Police Troop B Public Information Officer.
Tracie Boutte, member of the CADA for Greater New Orleans Board of Directors, to the left, Bridget Gardner, RN, ILH Injury Prevention Program Coordinator, and Trooper Melissa Matey, Louisiana State Police Troop B Public Information Officer.

New Orleans -- The Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse for Greater New Orleans presented its prestigious Excellence in Prevention Award to the Sudden Impact Program at the Interim LSU Public Hospital (ILH) at the 15th Annual CADA Award Luncheon.

The award recognizes an organization that has made a significant contribution to substance abuse treatment and/or prevention. The Louisiana State Police and ILH Level 1 Trauma Center together conduct the program.

Held within the Trauma Center, the seven-hour program for high school sophomores allows teens to witness first-hand the devastation of motor-vehicle crash injuries and fatalities due to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, distracted driving and driving unrestrained. Trauma victims, ILH medical staff and state troopers give students direct exposure to this devastation. Their most unique experience is visiting a patient in the Trauma ICU or Emergency Department.

"The students do not forget the experience," said Bridget Gardner, ILH Injury Prevention Program Coordinator. "Their pre- and post-test scores show a significant increase in knowledge and change in behavior."

Two years ago, the program expanded. It's now in Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center, in Baton Rouge, Touro Infirmary, in New Orleans, Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center, in Houma, St. Tammany Parish Hospital and Lakeview Regional Medical Center in Covington. The expansion also includes mock crashes conducted at all schools participating in Sudden Impact, mock trials to reinforce mock crash content and parent education, including a mock crash demonstration. Thirteen high schools participate in the program at ILH. In 2011-2012, 1500 students took part. In the 14 years of the program's existence, no student who took the course died in a motor vehicle crash while in high school.

Sudden Impact continues to draw attention for the quality of its work. It's a nominee for the 2012 International Association of Chiefs of Police/Motorola Webber Seavey Award: Quality in Law Enforcement. In 2010, the program was among the top 15 finalists for the award.

As early as 2001, the program garnered praise, receiving the Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Award from the National Association of Governor's Highway Safety Representatives.

Much of the credit for the program's success goes to Bridget Gardner, who was the driving force behind the development of the program more than thirteen years ago. Safety experts have recognized her work. In 2011, she received the Louisiana State Police Superintendent's Award for Excellence, one of the few civilians to receive the award, in recognition of her outstanding performance and achievement with Sudden Impact. Her expertise and devotion to reducing the injuries and deaths of teens have made Sudden Impact one of Louisiana's premier safety programs.