Tertiary - Film-makers create crash course in safety to teach lifesaving tips

26th November 2010 at 00:00
Students produce lessons on scenarios ranging from epilepsy to river emergencies

Two teenagers are out cycling along a country road in Aberdeenshire on a sunny autumn afternoon, without a care in the world. Seconds later, a car crashes ahead of them.

They find the young male driver slumped unconscious over the steering wheel, bleeding from a head injury. His female passenger is conscious but dazed, with blood oozing from her nose. It's a scenario we all dread - you're first on the scene at an accident and your actions could mean the difference between life and death for the victims. But do you know what to do?

Fortunately today's "casualties" are just young student actors taking part in a film being made for schools by Aberdeen College. The aim is to show young people how to react if they encounter a situation like this.

It's one of four films commissioned by South Marr Safety Community Council in partnership with Grampian Fire and Rescue Service, to give pupils First On Scene education backed up by first aid training from the Red Cross. The films show how to cope with different emergency scenarios - one at a river, another from binge drinking and another connected with conditions such as asthma and epilepsy.

It's an exciting project for the television students and student actors. Members of all the emergency services have given up their Saturday to take part. The road near Banchory has been sealed off during filming and everything about the sequence is authentic, apart from the blood. There are six firefighters, two paramedics and a police officer working at the scene with their vehicles.

"This is an excellent opportunity for TV students to apply their production skills in the real world of film-making," says Paul Adderton, manager of Aberdeen College's multimedia centre, who is keeping a watchful eye on proceedings. "Using a script written by them to produce a video for the benefit of the wider community and working alongside the emergency services in its production will certainly add to their career prospects."

When the young cyclists come across the accident, they show they know what to do.

"They render first aid, they have a mobile phone and phone up the emergency services, and they support the injured people. They don't move the injured person in case they create even more injuries in the process of doing that. All this comes out in the film," says Mr Adderton, walking up the country road near the crash scene.

Roddy Lees, watch manager at Banchory fire station, is part of the project team and believes the films will make a real impression on young people.

"It will show teenagers exactly what to do in these four different situations. We're not trying to scare them and say this will happen to you, but we are trying to equip them with the knowledge to deal with these situations confidently and calmly, should they arise".

Up the road with his cameraman and crew, the film's director Derek Allan, 24, is setting up their next shot. Derek recently completed a creative industries HND in television production at Aberdeen College, and already shows signs of being the kind of boss people would want to work with.

He says that the hardest work has been the forward planning and he now wants everyone to enjoy the day: "The college gives you a lot of opportunity to get involved in productions, not just your own, but with other people's projects and commissions that come to the college from different companies.

"This is the biggest thing I have done, and it's a great opportunity," says Derek. "The message is first response, letting them know what to do when they come across an accident. It's basically what are the processes? So it's Stop, Think, Assess and Call - that's what you do when you come across a car accident and the script just says that."

Derek has the benefit of some talented young student actors - including Brodie Marno, 24, grandson of the legendary Scottish entertainer Andy Stewart. Brodie, who is in the first year of a creative industries HND, is playing one of the cyclists and writing another film with a group of friends.

Student actor Callum Kerr, 19, is in his third year of acting and performance at Dundee College and is driving his own car for the sequence. He's understandably concerned that the "crash" is carefully managed. "I'm a little nervous because the car's old, so I hope it doesn't fall apart," he jokes.

Camera operator Gavin Cooper, 30, finished at Aberdeen College in June and directed the first film in this series at Banchory Academy. "This is a really good start for us and brilliant for the CV as well," says Gavin. His camera assistant, Joanna Popiolkiewicz, 20, from the HND creative industries course, is keeping a close eye on the action, as she will be directing the next film.

Police school liaison officer Rob Farrands works with some of the pupils who will be seeing this film at Banchory, Alford and Aboyne academies. He says these films have a vital role to play and could save lives.

He has advised the filmmakers at the planning stages, along with NHS representatives and colleagues from the emergency services. In the first film he had a speaking role, but today it's just a walk-on part. "I had a speaking part in the last one and I was very wooden," he laughs.

For further information on the DVD for schools: E: roddy.lees@grampianfrs.org.uk


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