Medical Emergency Pardoning Policy
When it comes to alcohol or drug-related medical emergencies, the Division of Student Life recognizes the possibility that some students may be reluctant to seek assistance out of fear that they may face sanctions from the Office of Student Conduct.
Susquehanna University will remain committed to educating students on risk reduction strategies when it comes to informed decision-making on the topic of alcohol and other drugs. Administrators will continue to provide opportunities for students to develop a responsible approach to social challenges when it comes to alcohol and other drugs. Additionally, the implementation of this policy will include campus-wide education on the symptoms of alcohol abuse, drug use, and overdoses (etc.).
The following information is from the Mayo Clinic staff from www.mayoclinic.com. Please note that this is only a guide. Individuals should always err on the side of caution and call 911 or 9-911 (from an on-campus phone) to contact trained medical emergency personnel to make a final determination if someone should be transported to a hospital.
Signs of alcohol poisoning from the Mayo Clinic
Alcohol poisoning symptoms include:
- Confusion, stupor
- Slow breathing (less than eight breaths a minute)
- Irregular breathing (a gap of more than 10 seconds between breaths)
- Blue-tinged skin or pale skin
- Low body temperature (hypothermia)
- Unconsciousness ("passing out") and can't be roused
It's not necessary for all of these symptoms to be present before you seek help. A person who is unconscious or can't be roused is at risk of dying.
When to see a doctor
If you suspect that someone has alcohol poisoning—even if you don't see the classic signs and symptoms—seek immediate medical care. In an emergency, follow these suggestions:
If the person is unconscious, breathing less than eight times a minute, or has repeated, uncontrolled vomiting, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Keep in mind that even when someone is unconscious or has stopped drinking, alcohol continues to be released into the bloodstream and the level of alcohol in the body continues to rise. Never assume that a person will "sleep off" alcohol poisoning.
If the person is conscious, call 800-222-1222 (in the U.S.), and you'll automatically be routed to your local poison control center. The staff at the poison control center or emergency call center can instruct you as to whether you should take the person directly to a hospital. All calls to poison control centers are confidential.
Be prepared to provide information. If you know, be sure to tell hospital or emergency personnel the kind and amount of alcohol the person drank, and when.
Don't leave an unconscious person alone. While waiting for help, don't try to make the person vomit. Alcohol poisoning affects the way your gag reflex works. That means someone with alcohol poisoning may choke on his or her own vomit or accidentally inhale (aspirate) vomit into the lungs, which could cause a fatal lung injury.
Who is governed by this policy
Students in need of medical attention
Unless otherwise set forth below, a student who seeks emergency medical assistance in a severe alcohol or other drug-related emergency will not receive disciplinary action within the University Student Conduct System for the mere possession or use of alcohol and/or other drugs. This emergency assistance can be sought for one’s self or another student. This policy also applies to an individual(s) seeking emergency medical assistance for another student.
A severe alcohol or other drug-related emergency is defined as a situation where a person’s health status is potentially at risk due to the intake of alcohol or other drugs.
To qualify under this policy, a student (either victim or bystander) may make initial contact with a University official (including paraprofessional staff—Head Residents or Resident Assistants) or call for emergency services directly. Either may be accomplished by contacting a Residence Life staff member if one is easily accessible, or by calling (570) 372-4444 (ext: 4444 from any on-campus phone) for the Department of Public Safety or 911 (9-911 from any on-campus phone).
In an effort to emphasize the importance of responsible bystander behavior, this policy does NOT apply to students experiencing an alcohol or drug-related medical emergency who are found by University officials, including paraprofessional staff, law enforcement officials, or individuals not associated with the University.
The Medical Emergency Pardoning Policy (MEPP) is an opportunity for learning. Therefore, beyond the first incident, the availability of this policy will be at the discretion of the Office of Student Conduct.
Bystanders in situations where students are in need of medical attention
To receive a pardon from disciplinary action, a bystander(s) who seeks emergency medical assistance on behalf of another student is required to:
- Be directly involved in attending to the student who needs medical assistance (to be determined during follow up of the incident by the Office of Student Conduct)
- Provide his/her name to university and/or emergency officials
- Remain with the victim until help arrives
- Cooperate fully with University and emergency officials
All students seeking a pardon from disciplinary action must meet with a university official within the Division of Student Life and will be asked to comply with any recommendations set forth as a result of this meeting(s). Students will be contacted through their Susquehanna University email account regarding communications for this meeting(s). At the discretion of the Office of Student Conduct, students who fail to respond or comply with reasonable requests and recommendations from university official(s) will lose their right to receive a pardon through the MEPP.
Students who seek to help others through medical assistance are not limited to one use of this policy, as the expectation is they should always feel empowered to help those in need.
Reasons for this policy
Susquehanna University’s alcohol and other drug policies and sanctioning guidelines are focused on the health, safety, and education of its community members. It is this commitment to health and safety that influences SU’s programming initiatives and policy enforcement.
In an effort to reduce barriers that may prevent a student from seeking medical assistance for him or herself or others, the Medical Emergency Pardoning Policy offers the following provisions for Susquehanna University students.
Links with other policies
As stated in the Purpose of the Student Conduct System in the Code of Student Conduct, “students are expected to exhibit a high standard of behavior and concern for others.” To that end, the Division of Student Life seeks to encourage personal responsibility over one’s health and safety as well as responsible bystander behavior. Additionally, all students are expected to abide by laws and policies outlined in the Student Handbook, including those related to alcohol and other drug possession and consumption.
Exclusions and special situations
- This policy is subject to the discretion of the Vice President for Student Life & Dean of Students or his/her designee and may decide to overturn a pardon based on considerations such as flagrant or repeated violations of the alcohol or drug policy or the health and safety of the student(s) involved. In the case of organizational involvement, a hospital trip may be used as a mitigating factor.
- This policy does not preclude the University from taking disciplinary action for other Prohibited Conduct that may be associated with the incident and outlined in the Student Handbook, including but not limited to damage to property, supplying alcohol or other drugs, sexual assault, theft, harassment, or assault.
- Students should be aware that the University does not control action taken by local or state law enforcement officials.
Responsible University Office and Individual
This policy is subject to the discretion of the Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students or his/her designee. He/She oversees the policy. In consultation with the Vice President for Student Life, the Office of Student Conduct is responsible for policy implementation and revisions.
The Medical Emergency Pardoning Policy was reviewed and approved by University counsel on June 6, 2011.
Jenna F. Antoniewicz, Assistant Director of Residence Life for Student Conduct
Special thanks to Jim Neumeister from Northwestern University.