Organisations in Portadown have collaborated with the emergency services to make a moving new DVD on road safety.
Launched at Portadown Fire Station last week, ‘Blue Lights’ was produced by CURBS and BNL Productions, with the aid of local youth clubs, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS), and the PSNI.
“We started off by asking how we could use the media to educate the community,” said Stephen Smith, who runs Craigavon Intercultural Programme. “We got both the NIFRS and PSNI involved and it became a road safety advert.”
In the film, members of the NIFRS and PSNI explain the dangers of making hoax calls and the need to eliminate distractions when you are driving.
PSNI Sergeant Barbara McNally said, “I’ve seen numerous fatalities. I’ve seen accidents involving five or six cars - it does happen with young people getting their licences at 17 or 18; they think we’re picking on them but we’re doing it for the right reasons.”
Constable Colin Clarke, who appears in the film, noted a change in attitude among the young people after viewing the advert, as they now saw firefighters and PSNI officers not just as enforcers of the law, but as mothers and fathers.
Dale Ashford, assistant chief fire officer, emphasised the role of education in improving road safety.
“Working in conjunction with the community, we have a chance to make an impact. We’ve seen a huge drop in road traffic collisions over the past few years. There’s no question - education does work. From our point of view, this has to be the way forward; we have to look at different and innovative ways of making campaigns.”
The film features a re-enactment of a road traffic collision, using two local actors, which was shot outside St Mary’s Youth Club in Portadown, paving the way for young people to discuss their own safety on the roads.
“This has been a powerful learning experience for our young people,” explained Nick McConvey, youth worker in charge at St Mary’s Youth Club.
“It’s been a great talking point, allowing them to talk about their own experiences and asking how they can be safe in the future. Even our younger people have asked how they can take responsibility for their own safety - by wearing seat-belts when they’re in the car with others. It’s great to have this tool.”
Martin Thompson, NIFRS District Commander, commended the work of Portadown-based BNL Productions:
“In 28 years, this is one of the most professional things I’ve seen - it’s fantastic that we can now use this as an educational tool.”
You can watch the full film online by searching: ‘CURBS Blue Lights’ on YouTube.