Medical responders treated 50 percent more alcohol-related incidents per student at Georgetown than at nearby The George Washington University last semester.
When adjusted for the relative sizes of the undergraduate student bodies, Georgetown saw a rate of 1.53 calls per 100 students involving alcohol. GWU sported a lower rate of 1.02 calls per 100 students. The numbers do not necessarily indicate a higher drinking rate at Georgetown, however, since the two schools have different alcohol tolerance policies.
“If you are ‘EMeRGed’ twice, you get kicked out of the school. [This policy] discourages kids from calling,” said Sara Emamian, a sophomore at The George Washington University.
The Georgetown University Emergency Medical Service has worked with the Department of Public Safety and the Office of Student Conduct to ensure that there are no repercussions for students who need medical assistance, despite the lack of a formal policy.
“Our experience has been that students are willing to call GERMS to have a friend evaluated when they are in doubt,” said Colin Brody (COL ’11), president of GERMS.
According to GERMS, the number of alcohol-related calls last semester was consistent with numbers from the year before. The percentage of all calls related to alcohol has remained constant annually, as The Hoya reported in January.
At GWU, it has been a different story. While the university policy still discourages students from calling, changes are being made to create a safer space for students. In the 2009-2010 academic year, calls spiked by 14 percent, from 238 to 271. According to The Hatchet, administrators attribute the rising number of calls to the university promoting alcohol education and touting their reformed alcohol amnesty policy.
Amnesty is meant to protect students who dial for medical help for another student from being prosecuted for underage drinking under the code of student conduct.
“I hope that students are feeling more comfortable about calling for help when needed and are less worried about getting in trouble,” Tara Pereira, assistant dean of students and head of Student Judicial Services at GWU, said in an interview with The Hatchet.
According to GERMS of the 114 calls the service responded to last semester, 77 patients were transported to a hospital. At GWU, the Emergency Medical Response Group, a GERMS-equivalent, saw 110 calls but transported all patients to the hospital as per their policy, according to The Hatchet. EMeRG does not allow patients to refuse treatment.
“When alcohol is involved, we must balance the desires of the patient with the responsibility to ensure that the patient receives the best care possible. Sometimes, that means consulting with physicians in the Emergency Department and allowing the student to refuse transport,” Brody said.
“On the other hand, in some cases, it is a violation of our clinical operations protocols and a danger to the patient to not bring him or her to the ED for evaluation and more advanced care,” he added.
The original headline of this story stated that Georgetown’s alcohol-related calls were double those at GWU. They are 50 percent higher.