University of Southern Indiana

Alcohol Emergencies

An alcohol emergency - sometimes called alcohol poisoning - is a much more critical situation than alcohol use. Alcohol poisoning is a true emergency situation, and must be responded to immediately.

The symptoms of alcohol poisoning are:

  • The person is unconscious or semi-conscious. You may have a hard time waking them up and they will not stay awake.
  • The person has cold, clammy, pale, or bluish skin.
  • They are breathing very slowly (less than 8 breaths per minute) or irregularly (more than 10 seconds between breaths).
  • They don't respond if you pinch their skin.
  • They vomit while passed out.
  • They have a seizure.

Medical Amnesty
USI and the State of Indiana both have medical amnesty policies! Don't be afraid to call for help for someone who has been drinking because you think you might get in trouble. You both may have some protection from University and legal penalties - but only if you do the right thing! Learn more about the medical amnesty policies.

Example
You are at a party when someone runs up to you and yells for you to come with them because your roommate is not breathing. You go up to the room and find lots of empty alcohol bottles and cups around. Your fellow party-goer is hysterical about your roommate drinking too much. You see that she is breathing irregularly and that her skin is cold and clammy. What do you do?

Make the First Move

  • Immediately check on anyone who may be showing signs of possible alcohol poisoning.
  • If you notice someone passed out, vomiting, incoherent, unable to answer simple questions, call Public Safety (812-492-7777) or 911 immediately.
  • If someone is passed out, roll them onto their side and stay with them until help arrives.
  • If they vomit, clear their airway by sweeping out material from their mouth.
  • Do not give food or fluids.
  • Be prepared to tell the responders how much they've had to drink and if they used any other substances. Cooperate with the responders.
  • DO NOT leave the person alone!

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