Stephen Gerber: Students on stretchers should not be taunted

To the incoming Class of 2014: Give each other a break!

Here is the scene: It’s Thursday night at Thurston Hall, and you are hanging out in the front of the building with your friends. One of your classmates has a little too much alcohol to drink, and her roommate calls EMeRG because this poor 18-year-old passed her limit. The student is so sick that she barely understands the questions EMeRG officials ask her, she can’t hold her own head up and her hair is caked with vomit. The EMeRG staff finishes its assessment, loads her onto a stretcher and takes her down to the ambulance.

While being wheeled out of the lobby, she is taunted, cheered and harassed by her classmates. I’ve heard calls of, “Oh shit! Someone can’t hold her booze, LIGHTWEIGHT, can I get your number?” Other times, students chant “EMeRG, EMeRG, EMeRG!”

It is hard to believe this is how you treat your sick classmates. EMeRG is not just for people with alcohol poisoning, or those who get busted by UPD – it is for students who are seriously ill. You see students putting sheets over their heads when being wheeled to the ambulance so they don’t have to face the disgraceful behavior of their peers.

According to a 2009 study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there were 468 non-traffic, alcohol-related deaths among college students in 2005. Being EMeRGed when you can’t hold your head up or are vomiting while unconscious is potentially life-threatening and is a medical emergency. While the Class of 2014 may not know this, one of our very own died because she drank too much. In 2009, the D.C. medical examiner ruled the death of sophomore Laura Treanor was due to acute alcohol intoxication.

Being EMeRGed is not a joke.

A person with alcohol poisoning isn’t someone who deserves to be taunted or jeered at. They should be treated with the same dignity and respect as any other sick person. You wouldn’t treat your grandparents like that if they were being taken by ambulance to the hospital, and you shouldn’t treat your peers that way.

I urge students to look out for each other. You have the next four years to make jokes about each other’s tastes in music or favorite sports teams, but the few seconds one of your peers is being wheeled past you on a stretcher is not the time for it.

-The writer is a GW alumnus, current GW graduate student and EMeRG clinical supervisor.

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