Things are hazy. You can’t see straight. You can’t sit up. You remember falling at one point (is that when your ankle started hurting?). A nice long nap sounds good right about now.
Suddenly, there are sirens wailing, lights flashing and you’re being guided onto a gurney, but not before emptying the contents of your stomach on the sidewalk.
You arrive at Pullman Regional Hospital moments later (though you’re not entirely sure how you got there) and asked a few questions that you should know the answer to, but don’t.
A needle is inserted into your arm and X-rays are taken of your purple ankle. You wake up hours later in a hospital bed, remembering nothing of the night before.
In light of this last weekend’s celebration, I decided to explore the world of the emergency room and the procedures the hospital goes through when someone is admitted for an alcohol emergency.
Stacey Aggabao, emergency department director at Pullman Regional Hospital, said that there really isn’t any special procedure for those brought in for an alcohol emergency. They’re treated like any other emergency or admitted patient.
If a student is brought in who can stand or sit up without assistance and are conscious, they are often given IV fluids and meds to help with vomiting after blood work is taken and released a few hours later with a sober friend.
Should the patient be unconscious, they must go through a higher system of detoxication and are admitted to the hospital for overnight or 24-hour watch.
If a student is admitted, they are also referred to Alcohol and Drug Counseling, Assessment and Prevention Services (ADCAPS) for alcohol counseling.
In both cases, if injuries or trauma are present, X-rays are taken.
Someone can be considered intoxicated enough for an emergency at a blood alcohol level (BAC) of as low as 0.15, only double the legal limit, said Patricia Maarhuis, an ADCAPS coordinator.
However, Aggabao said the average student BAL for those brought to the emergency room was 0.237, which is three times the legal limit. The average female student came in with an BAL of 0.227 and the average male student with a BAL of 0.244.
While the average also includes those who came in with BALs of less than .1, there are also outliers on the other end of the spectrum. The highest male student BAL in 2010 was 0.399 and the highest female student BAL was 0.445, both highly dangerous BAL’s that could result in coma or death.
Aggabao said they saw a little more than 200 WSU students last year, which includes those admitted for alcohol poisoning as well as those treated for injuries sustained while intoxicated. About five or six patients are treated every weekend, the number going up on holiday weekends such as Halloween or Dad’s Weekend.
Aggabao said that there were a total of seven patients brought in during the weekend, including Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Considering the total number of students on campus, this may not seem high, but it’s still significant.
How can you avoid the emergency room? It’s as simple as knowing what you’re drinking and how much you’re drinking. Don’t go overboard, despite how easy it is. Know your limit, stick to it and stay where you know you’re secure.
Be excellent to yourselves and each other, Cougs.