Cops, paramedics urge Burnaby grads to find a safe way home

Police are descending on Burnaby high schools this week – but not in a bad way.

For two weeks, Burnaby RCMP and Transit Police, along with BC Ambulance Services and TransLink, are visiting schools ahead of grad season to raise awareness about impaired driving.

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A Burnaby Mountie talks to Alpha Secondary students at a Choose Your Ride event Tuesday. - Cornelia Naylor

The new initiative, spearheaded by school liaison officer Const. Alexa Hodgins, kicked off at Alpha Secondary School on Tuesday.

An assortment of police cruisers and an ambulance were parked in the school’s parking lot at lunch, and officers and paramedics were on hand to talk to students about responsible transportation choices during grad festivities, the laws around impaired driving, vaping and drug misuse and the possible consequences of driving impaired.

Students, meanwhile, seemed equally interested in trying out the cruisers’ sirens and loudspeakers and pretending to take each other into custody.

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Burnaby RCMP Const. Alexa Hodgins hands out impairment goggles to Alpha Secondary students Tuesday during a Choose Your Ride event. - Cornelia Naylor

“I wanted a different way to talk to kids about everything to do with making safe decisions for grad season,” Hodgins told the NOW. “Really it’s just a fun way to talk to kids and get them to choose a safe alternative. Even if it makes one kid stop and think, ‘I should take a bus or arrange for a taxi or even just call my mom,’ then that’s a win for me.”

The initiative dovetails nicely with what the district hopes to get across to grads too, according to Safe and Caring Schools director Sue Dorey.

“We anticipate that the visuals of Choose Your Ride will pique curiosity and spark a healthy and important conversation,” she said in a press release. “This gives students a significant opportunity to talk about safety with professionals who care about their well-being and want to prevent the harms associated with substance use and driving.”

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An Alpha Secondary student wearing impairment goggles attempts to execute a skill-testing task. - Cornelia Naylor

The event touched down at Burnaby North Wednesday and Burnaby Mountain today (Thursday).

Moscrop students will get their turn with lights and sirens Friday.

Next week, Cariboo Hill, Byrne Creek, Burnaby South and Burnaby Central will get visits from the cops and paramedics on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday respectively.

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