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Program educates to prevent alcohol-related deaths

Madison Holmes

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Evan Thibeau demonstrates how to properly lay an intoxicated person so that they won’t choke on their vomit.Photo credit: Annie Paige

In response to alcohol-related deaths, the Red Watch Band program at Chico State aims to give students the knowledge and ability to prevent deaths from alcohol overdose.

Each year 1,825 college students die from alcohol poisoning and overdose, according to the Campus Alcohol and Drug Education Center.

CADEC decided to implement this program at Chico State last spring, following multiple alcohol-related student deaths at Chico State, said Trisha Seastrom, CADEC program manager.

“Every school has its reputation, but it’s really, really sad and we have to turn it around,” Seastrom said. “And we are, we’re making strides. Sometimes tragedies happen, and it’s horribly sad, but it shouldn’t take away from what an incredible education this institution has to offer.”

The Red Watch Band program is not an abstinence-based program, Seastrom said.

“If you’re going to drink, this is the knowledge and the skills you need to have to keep yourself safe and to keep your friends safe,” Seastrom said. “It is a positive and empowering experience.”

Over 600 Chico State students and Chico community members have participated in the program since it was established, Seastrom said.

JW Dobbe, the Associated Students commissioner of community affairs and a participant in the Red Watch Band Program, encouraged participation in the program.

“So many students have already done it, but one student doing the Red Watch Band can help several students,” said Dobbe.

The program began at Stony Brook University in New York after the death of a first-year student, Seastrom said.

“This young man died because his friends didn’t call for help,” Seastrom said. “So the program was born out of the concept of empowering students to call for help in alcohol overdose emergency situations. There’s a lack of knowledge and understanding of when it is an emergency, when the situation has become an emergency, when medical help is needed.”

Members of the Chico community make a huge impact when they take part in the Red Watch Band program because it shows they care about Chico’s students and community and are willing to help, Dobbe said.

“Personally, I can tell you that I’ve been in situations downtown where I now feel more comfortable addressing issues,” Dobbe said. “They teach you exactly what signs to look for and when it’s appropriate for you to step in and contact for more help.”

New training dates for the Red Watch Band are available — sign up online or in the CADEC office in the Student Services Center.

Madison Holmes can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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