ABU DHABI // School children cheered and chanted as they watched five cars revving their engines, racing and skidding along an empty parking lot near the Corniche. The children giggled with excitement as the vehicles made sharp turns and sped dangerously close to one another.
However, the main message had yet to come. In a mock traffic accident scenario set up by the Abu Dhabi Police as part of the GCC Traffic Week, one of the cars, which contained two passengers, crashed into a simulated wall, a plume of red smoke rising.
Passengers of the other vehicles and bystanders rushed to the scene and called for help. Within minutes, the civil defence vehicles arrived - including a police car, the fire brigade and an ambulance. The rescue team had to completely remove the car doors in order to reach the passengers, who were both suffering from serious injuries.
As the medical team assessed the situation, they realised there was not a second to spare and immediately called for a helicopter. As it dove in from the sky, the medical team prepped the patients for takeoff.
In the meantime, a tow truck arrived and removed the damaged vehicle. The "accident" took place at 10:53am and within a timely 20 minutes, the area was cleared.
The purpose of the exercise, police officials said, was to relay the message that risky driving behaviour could lead to dangerous consequences, and to demonstrate the amount of collaboration and co-ordination required by the rescue team when attending an emergency.
"In order to protect society from traffic accidents, which cause significant human, social and economic losses, we must apply international best practices in [traffic] education and strengthen our partnership with the community," said Maj Gen Mohammed al Menhali, the director general of police operations.
"All the roles played by actors in the incident aim to transfer a realistic picture of the consequences of not complying with the law," he said, adding anyone who finds themselves in such a situation must immediately call 999.
For those who truly enjoy motor sports, the right facilities are available, police officials said.
"We want to tell students that yes they can enjoy themselves, but there are specific places available, such as the Yas Marina Circuit, where they can demonstrate their skills, and where they can even receive specialised training," said Brig Gen Hussein al Harethi, the head of the Abu Dhabi Traffic and Patrols Directorate. "But the public roads are not the place to engage in this behaviour where the driver can put himself and others in grave danger."
Another valuable message the police were trying to convey through this demonstration, was that bystanders and passing drivers must not crowd the scene.
"The reason the team acted as fast as they could is because the crowd left the area. These crowds obstruct the way for the ambulance, for the fire trucks and for the helicopter," Brig Gen al Harethi said. "This makes it very difficult for emergency vehicles to reach the scene and for the rescue team save the patient."