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Should I Call the EMTs?

Monday, Jul. 25, 2011

Best student comment wins a $50 Amazon Gift Certificate.  Responses must be received by midnight July 31.

It had been a long second week of freshman year. Roommates Sally and Morgan were ready for the weekend. On Friday night, they heard about an upcoming party and decided to check it out. The beer was plentiful, and even though they were underage, Sally and Morgan were welcome to drink as much as they wanted.

As the night progressed, Morgan, who had very little experience with alcohol in high school, started to feel sick, so Sally helped her back to the dorm. When they got to the dorm bathroom, Morgan passed out next to the sink.

Sally wasn't sure what she should do. She had heard that there were EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) on campus to help in this situation. But she'd also heard that when you called the EMTs, you got fined and "written up." She didn't want to get in trouble or to make trouble for Morgan, but she thought her friend might be really ill.

Facts about Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol Medical Emergency Policies at Colleges and Universities 

College Drinking: When Friends Get into Trouble 

A Framework for Ethical Decision Making


Photo by Laughing Squid available under Attribution- Non Commercial- No Derivs License.

Comments Comments

Cameron said on Jul 27, 2011
If you ever really think your friend is sick, you have to call the EMTs. Honestly, it's as simple as that. The more experience you have with alcohol, the more you will be able to recognize the difference between sleeping and passed out, and between alcohol poisoning and upset stomach. You have to be careful though. Even people who take care of their sick friends all the time sometimes get it wrong. Some combinations of drinks hit harder or differently than others; sometimes the person hasn't eaten or slept enough recently. There are tons of possible variables. If there is any ever doubt at all, you have to call the EMTs because the trouble you may get in for calling is absolutely nothing compared to what may happen if you don't call. Alcohol poisoning is not a joke people die from it. Your friend will thank you later. - Like - 3 people like this.
Deepti said on Jul 28, 2011
Sally should definitely call the EMTs. People don't normally pass out in random places, and the fact that Morgan has done so suggests that there might be something really wrong with her. Alcohol overdose can have serious consequences, and as a friend, Sally's responsibility is to prioritize Morgan's health and safety over concerns about their friendship. Even if Morgan gets fined or written up, those possibilities are preferable to the chance of her dying because she didn't get the help she needed. It wouldn't be much of a friendship if Sally were more worried about Morgan being mad at her than about her friend's well being. Sally wouldn't be getting Morgan into trouble if she called the EMTs: she'd be getting her out of it. Morgan got herself into trouble in the first place by drinking more than she could handle. It's not as if Sally's being judgmental or reporting Morgan just to cause problems. She's being a concerned friend and making the only responsible choice she can in the situation. She should go ahead and make the call. It's the only way she can ensure her friend's safety. - Like - 3 people like this.
Marlys said on Jul 29, 2011
Saving her life by calling for help or any of the consequences set in place to deter young people from the dangers of drinking? This answer is simple. Yes, mistakes happen. Consequences help us learn from our mistakes so that we can understand the gravity that our actions carry. If let off the hook for such a life-threatening choice, would she truly learn to not make that mistake again? Save a life or get "written up"? What kind of question is that? Every human life is precious. - Like - 4 people like this.
erick chong said on Jul 30, 2011
Disregard less of the outcomes to calling the authority, one must always make sure their roommate is secured. I know we are young and alcohol sounds good but in one has individually knows their limit to drinking. If you see your friend in a fishy situation make sure he or she has a pulse, is breathing and then call the authorities for they could the necessary care. I would suggest to lay the person on the floor but that could be bad encased they begin to vomit for puke could get stock half way and choke them to death. Defiantly call the authorities because you could save a life and cool it on the drinking! - Like - 2 people like this.
Everardo said on Jul 31, 2011
Although I have never heard of a college implementing such a policy, it does seem ridiculous to threaten students for doing something as good-hearted as calling for help when a friend is in danger. I understand that colleges might see fining and writing up students as ways to keep students from drinking in the first place, but the fact is that drinking DOES occur on college campuses--often in excess--and it should be the school's duty to keep its students safe by offering these services without threatening students. If such a policy were not in place, Sally's decision would be simple: call the EMT's and do what's best for her friend Morgan. Yet, even with this policy in place, the decision is still very easy. Regardless of the short-term consequences (which are likely not all that serious in the long run), Sally should definitely do what is right and call for help. What's worse: getting written up and being fined a few hundred dollars, or losing a life to alcohol poisoning as thousands do each year? If Morgan's illness became more severe, Morgan, too, could die. Sally should ask herself if she could live with knowing that she didn't do everything she could to save her friend. - Like - 5 people like this.
David DeCosse said on Jul 31, 2011
I have a dream. It's not a drunken one or a cynical one. It's a dream that no number of tapped-out kegs and helter-skelter red plastic beer cups lying every which way on a ping pong table can wash away in a river of numbness. It's a dream that builds one difficult and possible action at a time. So, yes, Sally should put aside her fears for being disciplined herself and put aside her fears for Morgan being disciplined and should call the EMTs. The value of Morgan's health easily outweighs any such fears. But that's an act of responsibility that in my dream would rarely be necessary. Instead, I dream of a culture of responsibility around drinking in college that would be created from one student feeding off the good behavior of other students. In this culture, Sally and Morgan would see that juniors and seniors drink responsibly. They would discover that - really - the frat house will NOT serve them beer because they are underage. But they have a great time anyhow at the frat house party. They dance, they love the music, they make new friends. At another party later the same night, the culture slips. Morgan actually does get a beer, chugs it down, and starts wobbling when she walks. Seeing things starting to head south, Sally snags her friend by the arm and, while Morgan still has most of her wits about her, tugs her right out of the disintegrating scene. They go back to their dorm, talk until 3 a.m., and fall asleep, far short of anyone needing an EMT, and dreaming happily, too. A culture of responsibility lives in such dreams! - Like - 2 people like this.
Miriam Schulman said on Aug 1, 2011
Winner of this week's Big Q comment contest is Marlys, who argued that bad choices have consequences; that's how we learn. Marlys gets a $50 Amazon gift certificate. Please keep the comments coming. - Like - 1 person likes this.
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Tags: alcohol poisoning, amnesty, drinking, party