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College Program Aims to Curb Alcohol-Related Deaths


Red Watch Band, a volunteer program started at Stony Brook University in New York, aims to teach students what to do when someone passes out from binge drinking, USA Today reported June 15.

The program was founded after the son of a Stony Brook professor died of an alcohol overdose in 2008. To date, about 90 students have completed the program, which involves 2.5 hours of CPR training and one hour of alcohol-related emergency training. More than 100 other colleges and universities have considered starting the program on their campuses this fall.

After they complete the training, students are given a red watch. “The Red Watch symbolizes the 'band' of students who are trained to 'watch' over one another when 'every second counts,'” according to the program website.

“Our students absolutely need to know how to stay alive, and we need to be doing something to equip them and empower them to create a culture where they can look out for each other and care about each other,” said Jenny Hwang, associate dean and director for prevention and outreach at Stony Brook.

As drinking-related deaths on college campuses rise, so has the need for programs like Red Watch Band, says Tim Workman, assistant professor in the school of allied health sciences at Baylor College of Medicine. However, he added, such efforts need to be combined with prevention education.

“We don't just want to see an increase in 911 calls,” Workman said. “What we want to see is a decrease in incidents.”

A June 2009 report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) found that alcohol-related deaths and binge drinking at college campuses continue to rise, and a 2007 report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that 49 percent of full-time college students binge drink and/or abuse prescription and illegal drugs.

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