Three Utah County nurses hope a graphic program that shows alcohol-related accidents and injuries may help local students get the message that drinking and driving don't mix.

Susie Kochevar and Jean Lundquist, emergency room nurses at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, and Ann Topham, an emergency room nurse at American Fork Hospital, presented the program to students at Payson Junior High School Monday.Similar presentations have been made at high schools in Payson, Orem and Dugway.

"We want to increase awareness of what happens when you go drinking and driving," Kochevar said. "Hopefully, we won't have to see you at our place of employment."

On the Fourth of July in 1986, six alcohol-related emergencies were brought into the emergency center at UVRMC. All of the victims were under the age of 25; all were fatally injured.

"I got involved (in this program) because I thought if I could educate the public, I might prevent some of the accidents we see," Kochevar said.

The C.A.R.E. (Cancel Alcohol Related Emergencies) program being used by the nurses was developed by two nurses in Massachusetts who also were frustrated at seeing "bright futures turned into lifelong nightmares."

The program includes a slide show of wrecked vehicles, youth in emergency rooms being treated for injuries, and displays of information about alcohol, what takes place during a crash and other pertinent information about drinking and driving.

Students at Payson Junior High were noticeably awed by the presentation.

A group discussion followed the slide show.

"The pictures shown just barely scratch the surface of some of the things we see in the emergency room," Topham told the students.

She said alcohol-related accidents are the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Topham said young people should think about how they would deal with a situation in which they, or someone else who is driving, are drunk.

"If you are driving, stay sober. If you have been drinking, let someone else drive," Topham said.

Topham also suggested that students make "contracts for life" with their parents or another person, in which they agree to call for a ride when they are incapacitated and the other party agrees not to ask questions until later.

Topham said time - not coffee, cold showers or fresh air - is the only thing that reduces the effects of alcohol.

"I learned a lot of things in nursing school," Kochevar said, "but one of those things was not how to tell someone their child is dead. Emergency nurses care. We want to keep you alive. Don't drink and drive."

Safety tips for youth

--Wear a seat belt

--Drive a big, heavy car

--Use the freeway

--Do not drive after drinking

--Stay off the roads Friday and Saturday nights