Safety and Security sees 131 Good Samaritan calls

by Peter Charalambous | 9/15/17 2:05am

Recently-released numbers from the College’s Student Wellness Center show that more students called the Office of Safety and Security for alcohol-related help last year than any other year since the College starting recording alcohol data in 2011. In total, students made 131 Good Samaritan calls, an increase of 36 percent from 2015. In addition to this new data, the College also recently announced that the Good Samaritan policy will now cover both alcohol and drug use.

While last year saw the most calls for alcohol-related help since 2011, other incidents involving alcohol, such as medical encounters with Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, decreased in frequency. Overall incidents including alcohol with either Safety and Security or Residential Education decreased from 414 last years to 388 this year. Cases in which students had a blood-alcohol concentration of .25 or higher — three times the legal limit of .08 in New Hampshire — decreased to a low of 30 cases, a decrease from 35 cases last year.

In total, 185 students received intoxication-related care from the College’s health services or DHMC, an increase from 176 students last year.

“The riskiest encounters are not kind of jumping up — instead, we are seeing that the good Samaritan numbers are,” Student Wellness Center director Caitlin Barthelmes said. “That means more students are calling but the level the risk that we are seeing is maintaining a reasonably low level.”

The College’s Good Sam policy allows students to receive medical attention when impaired by alcohol or drugs without facing disciplinary action. After students make calls for themselves or another student, Dartmouth Emergency Medical Services arrives with Safety and Security to assess the impaired student. Depending on the severity of the case, Safety and Security can either transport a student to Dick’s House for an overnight stay or DHMC for more serious cases.

“For the student who is watching a friend have a reaction, overdose, or be impaired to a degree where they need medical intervention, my hope is that any student would call in that moment,” director of Judicial Affairs Katharine Strong said. “If you are considering that they need medical intervention, the trouble is there, and they need help and they need it immediately.”

If a student made the call, the impaired student will not face disciplinary action from Judicial Affairs. While Judicial Affairs may request a meeting to review policy such as the hard-alcohol ban, the student will not face any disciplinary action for the consumption. Possession of banned substances may result in separate disciplinary action, however.

Regardless of the severity of the case, a student who receives medical attention after a Good Sam call must attend a Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students session, which is orchestrated by either staff or graduate students at the College’s Student Wellness Center. This 30-45-minute session utilizes non-judgmental motivational interviewing techniques in order to encourage a student to make better choices regarding alcohol in the future.

Apart from some changes in length, the College’s BASICS program is similar to the programs at other colleges. Unpublished data from the Office of Institutional Research found that students who participated in BASICS witnessed a 50 percent reduction in high risk drinking for up to a year. An internal evaluation of Dartmouth’s BASICS program found that athletes who participate in BASICS as a preventative intervention showed a 30 percent reduction in high risk drinking.

“The majority of the conversation is really about asking students questions to help them understand where they are at according to their use and where they want to be regarding their use,” Barthelmes said. “We try to empower them to do what is best for them.”

The Good Sam policy also works in conjunction with two other college initiatives and programs which encourage safe drinking practices. The hard-alcohol ban, which was implemented in 2015 as part of College President Phil Hanlon’s Moving Dartmouth Forward program, prohibits the possession and consumption of hard alcohol on Dartmouth’s campus, even if the offender is over 21 years of age. Also, the Dartmouth Bystander Initiative educates students to recognize and prevent dangerous or harmful situations. This initiative ­is explained during orientation for incoming students, at training for first-year trip members and at information sessions for potential new members of Dartmouth’s Greek-letter organization community.

The College also announced on Sunday that the College’s Good Sam policy would also include drug consumption. As of this fall, students may receive medical attention for the consumption of drugs without disciplinary action. However, the college’s policy does not cover the possession of drugs or paraphernalia or the distribution of drugs. Students who received punishment in the past for the consumption of drugs will not incur retroactive application of this new policy.

“In the past, if you were Good Sammed and both [alcohol and drugs] were present, the Good Sam counted for the alcohol and we would still meet with the student judicially for drug use,” Strong said.

Safety and Security also plans to enforce the policy similarly to the way it enforced the alcohol policy in the past. However, Safety and Security is neither trained to administer overdose medication such as Narcan nor equipped to deliver it, said Interim Safety and Security director Keysi Montas.

“The only thing that I will say [that is] different is that depending on kind of drug overdose or the medical condition of the individual, then I might foresee more direct runs to DHMC than an intermediate point,” he said.

If Safety and Security finds either drugs on scene or paraphernalia, it will confiscate the items and alert Hanover Police Department. If the Hanover Police Department decides to pursue the case, which it does not always do, Safety and Security would share the report of the case with the authorities. In cases where Safety and Security finds signs of distribution such as scales or large amounts of cash, it will seal the room and immediately contact the Hanover Police Department for an official investigation.

As this policy begins his implementation this term, Montas offered some advice for anyone thinking about calling in a Good Samaritan call: “The earlier that the call is made the better off we are.”