Campus Safety has revised its policies for contacting intoxicated persons in accordance with the end of overnight service hours at Boettcher Health Clinic, moving to follow how local police assess and aid people under the influence.
“We did revise our policy on dealing with intoxicated persons because of the changes, obviously,” said Pat Cunningham, Director of Campus Safety. “What we do now is mirror the Colorado Springs Police Department policy… Really what this is intended to do is provide more consistency.”
The new policy is aimed at making the best medical decisions in a timely and safe manner. Without Boettcher, that often means deciding when to use American Medical Response, or AMR, which is the ambulance and medic service the City of Colorado Springs has contracted.
The college announced this summer that it would end overnight hours at Boettcher Health Center and add more daytime service for the 2013-2014 academic year after an extended analysis process, citing a lack of patient visits, costs, and liability as the reasons behind the move.
In past years, Campus Safety often took students to Boettcher for a medical assessment if an ambulance wasn’t immediately needed. There, a registered nurse could decide if a trip to the emergency room was needed or would call AMR for further assessment.
Boettcher’s role in the process of aiding students who were under the influence might not have always been so well understood in the community.
“I heard a very interesting conversation the other day between some students, and this is me just sitting there listening at a lunch table,” said Jason Newton, Campus Resource Officer.
“They said, ‘Oh, we can’t get blacked out drunk anymore because we don’t have Boettcher.’ Well, if you got blacked out drunk, either way you were never going to Boettcher. I think people saw that as a fallback, but you were always going to the hospital.”
At the heart of the new assessment process is the decision of whether or not a student is intoxicated or incapacitated. CSPD, and now Campus Safety, use a number of criteria to make that distinction:
- Is the subject responding to light stimulus?
- Can the subject walk unassisted?
- Can the subject answer questions?
- Is there any indication that the subject has suffered any kind of trauma or suffers from any underlying medical condition?
- Is the subject at least 18 years of age?
If an intoxicated person falls under any of the criteria, Campus Safety contacts AMR for an immediate assessment. AMR then decides whether or not the patient needs assistance, can refuse treatment, or should be transported to a local hospital.
Initial AMR assessments are free of charge; patients incur costs if a transport or emergency medical attention is needed.
AMR’s response time to campus is within eight minutes or less 80 percent of the time, Cunningham and Newton said, adding that typically an ambulance arrives on campus within two or three minutes.
If an AMR unit is unavailable, one of the local fire or paramedic stations can also respond within about five minutes.
Cunningham says he feels the new system will help prepare students for life outside of CC and for when they are downtown.
“One of the messages that I think CC consistently is trying to get out is that we want to prepare you guys for the real world,” Cunningham said. “What happens at 10 o’clock downtown is the same thing that happens on campus now.”
Campus officials also hope the new policy will eliminate situations in which not enough care can be provided.
“What we don’t want to do is make a bad judgment and go, ‘You know what, I thought maybe his cognitive process were kind of disrupted. He was borderline. We just decided to let him go,’” Cunningham said. “Well, no. That’s an AMR call. Err on the side of caution.”
While the new policy is still relatively fresh and untested, Cunningham says its implementation has been successful thus far.
“I think things have gone well,” he said. “We have had some that have gone to the hospital. We’ve had some that have gone to urgent care. We’ve had some that we’ve assessed and sent home with a friend.”
Jesse Paul, Editor-in-Chief