According to an EMT “Bad Things Happen When You Drink Too Much”
- Name: Jim S
- Age: 27
- Occupation: Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
- Location: Chicago, IL
How are you exposed to binge-drinking in your job?
As an EMT, I am, unfortunately, often exposed to binge-drinking. My co-workers and I take frequent calls for people who are experiencing complications or problems resulting from binge-drinking.
Based on your experience, what are the risks for binge-drinking?
There are a lot of health and safety risks associated with binge-drinking. That includes car accidents resulting from drunk driving. It also includes alcohol poisoning, blackouts, sexual assaults, and rape.
Can you provide 1-2 examples of situations you have been in that highlight these risks?
Yes, I can. Just last night, we responded to a call concerning a car accident on the interstate. The driver and his passenger were college buddies that had started drinking at 10 a.m. in preparation for their college football team’s 1 p.m. game. The driver fell asleep at the wheel on the interstate and the car hit a light pole and then a concrete barrier. The driver survived and is currently in the hospital. His passenger, his buddy, died on impact. The police interviewed the driver in the hospital. They’ll pass their finding along to the County District Attorney, who will decide whether to file involuntary manslaughter charges against the driver.
In another incident last winter, we got a call regarding a young woman who was seen sleeping outside the door of a house in freezing temperatures. A passerby had seen her there, was concerned for her welfare, and called 911. As it turns out, this was a college student who had been at a party only a block away from the house she and two friends were renting. She had way too much to drink at the party, wasn’t feeling well, and decided to walk home alone. When she reached her house, she reached in her bag for her keys and then immediately dropped them in the snow. And then, she couldn’t find those keys. No one was in the house, so the young woman decided to wait for one of her roommates to come home. That roommate was at the party also, but she hooked up with a friend and didn’t come home that night. The young woman then either fell asleep or passed out on her outside porch. And, by the time we got there, her ear was frozen and she had suffered severe frostbite to her fingers. The doctors did everything possible to try to save her fingers, but she lost two of them.
What do movies/TV shows get wrong about drinking?
Well, sometimes movies and TV shows tend to glorify the drinking. They’ll show people having a good time when they are partying, but they don’t always show the consequences of drinking too much.
What does the term “Drink Responsibly” mean to you?
For me, it means that a person should never drink so much that they lose control of their bodies or minds. We see car accidents from drunk driving incidents all the time, but drinking responsibly goes way past that, even if you’re not driving.
What drinking-related advice would you offer high school or college students?
Be careful. It’s OK to have a good time, but a lot of bad things can happen when you drink too much alcohol. I’ve seen college students who have ruined their lives, and the lives of others, with just one night of drinking. I recently attended a training session in which the instructor said that about 90% of the alcohol consumed by people under 21 is consumed during binge-drinking activities. So, when a young adult is attending an event in which drinking is involved, you should resolve, before the party, not to drink just to “fit in” or not to drink just because other people are pressuring you to drink. Set limits for yourself, like maybe only one drink an hour, and then abide by the limits you’ve set. And, another good rule of thumb would be to not start drinking before the social activity or event. It seems that some people like to “pre-game” and that often leads to a long day or night of drinking and usually too much consumption.