“Oh he’s fine, let him sleep it off”
How many times have we heard that phrase before? That’s exactly what Michael’s friends said, as he quietly passed away from an alcohol overdose.
When I heard this story, my heart immediately turned to ice. I’ve said this before, as I’ve watched my college roommate return from a party and pass out drunk in her bed.
“Oh, she’s breathing. She just needs to sleep,” I said as I placed a garbage can and a glass of water next to her bed.
1,825 college students die annually from alcohol-related, unintentional injuries. Deaths that could have easily been prevented.
Nationwide, colleges and universities must deal with the realities of high-risk drinking on their campuses. Michael Sunshine was a student at Northwestern University in 2009. One night, he passed out and later choked on his vomit due to acute alcohol poisoning. Because his friends thought he was just sleeping, they did not think much of the incident. They drew on his face as a joke, and did not call for help. The next morning Michael’s parents had to identify his body with drawings all over his face. Michael’s mother, an administrator at Stony Brook University, decided that she did not want her son’s death to be in vain, so she developed the Red Watch Band Training in order to combat such a preventable cause of death at other colleges. Other Milwaukee college campuses have suffered the loss of students to acute alcohol intoxication. Luckily, Marquette has never experienced a death due to acute alcohol intoxication, and this training is meant to make sure it never happens.
What is Red Watch Band Training?
The Red Watch Band program is an hour-long training designed to give college students the skills they need to successfully prevent death due to alcohol intoxication. In this training, students learn about the effects of alcohol on the body as well as the signs of acute alcohol intoxication. Through realistic scenarios, students learn and practice strategies for intervening in situations and making “the call” when someone needs help.
So far, Marquette has welcomed the Red Watch Band Program with open arms. Over 396 Greek Life students have been trained to recognize signs of acute alcohol intoxication. After going through training, a majority of the students strongly agreed that they could recognize signs of a life-threatening overdose and would feel comfortable intervening as a bystander.
“Realistic and relatable, not about judging our choice but informing us how to help each other when we do choose to drink. It was such an open conversation that really motivated me to be careful in the future. It hit me with the truth that alcohol is a drug that can be dangerous. The Red Watch Band provided me with facts I never knew about and gave me an opportunity to hear people’s stories” -Emily Rafalik, Alpha Xi Delta
The program will continue to expand next year, with all Residence Hall Assistants and Orientation Staff students being trained before welcoming incoming freshman.
If you’re interested in learning more about Red Watch Band, contact the Wellness Peer Educators!