Chilling film aims lesson at ‘cool’ kids

From the Anchorage Daily News:

It may be the world’s first frostbite movie featuring snowboard dudes — plus a goofy flannel-clad narrator named “Dr. O” and an upbeat musical score.

But most Anchorage parents and teachers will shiver in recognition at the scenes involving “cool” teens.

One freezing adolescent boy hops foot to foot at a school bus stop in a T-shirt and shorts, a chilling contrast to the serene girl standing beside him in a kuspuk. Two girls, minus jackets and hats, get stranded along the Seward Highway in a blizzard with their car in the ditch. A child is rushed to the emergency room, where his frozen hands get soothed in a warm-water bath.

The new video “Frostbite and Hypothermia” is now being distributed free to every Alaska school district — along with a packet of classroom activities for fifth- through eighth-grade students.

But don’t think of those old cautionary film strips from health class. In this video, when one cold snowboarder is taunted with “don’t be a wuss,” an older snowboarder wearing shades intervenes:

“You know, man, it’s really not worth it. You should go in if you’re cold.”

And the message carries the jolt of real damaged flesh: blistered skin, blackened fingers and amputated limbs from Anchorage patients.

“The mistake I made was not stopping immediately and building a fire,” says one unnamed victim, as the camera lingers on the stumps below his ankles.

The project was produced largely by three brothers from a longtime Anchorage family — surgeon Dr. James O’Malley, kindergarten teacher Tom O’Malley and video editor Robert O’Malley, who now lives in Seattle. They plugged away on it in their spare time for about 10 years, pushing it through multiple versions and a few false starts.

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