What would you do if your friend needed serious help at a party? Or what if, after heavy drinking, he or she lost a pulse? Friends will always look out for each other, but starting this year, Albion College has adopted a program that takes that concept one step further.
It’s called the Red Watch Program, and it exists nation-wide at many other college campuses. It’s made up of student volunteers who are trained to handle high-risk alcohol situations. The volunteers wear red watches or red wristbands to distinguish themselves.
Students Jennifer Carter, Redford senior, and Charlie Micunek, South Bend, Ind., junior, are just a few Albion Red Watch volunteers.
“It’s a program for alcohol-death prevention,” Carter said. “We don’t have to go out of our way, we just keep an eye out for people who drink too much at parties.”
The program’s goal isn’t alcohol prevention, but rather making sure everyone is taken care of and safe. It first began at Stony Brook University in New York in 2008. Kiernan Gamel, certified substance abuse specialist at counseling services, helped start the program here at Albion last school year.
“I think this program is a good fit for Albion,” Gamel said. “Albion already has a culture of taking care of one another, and Red Watch really speaks to that.”
According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, over 1,800 students die annually from alcohol related deaths.
“There’s been numerous occasions where Red Watch members reported involvement in dealing with someone who had passed out, but there have been no reports of any serious issues from alcohol poisonings,” Gamel said.
All Red Watch members are kept up to date with meetings about training such as CPR and other strategies each month.
“I haven’t had to deal with any high-risk situations since being a part of the group, but I’m glad that I know the signs and when to alert police to get medical attention” Micunek said.
Albion Red Watch currently has 21 members, and they are always open to taking more. Training for new members will start this upcoming fall semester. If interested, contact Kiernan Gamel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Alex Carey