Advertisement

The price of alcohol poisoning

After their son's death, a couple wants to educate teens about the dangers of excessive drinking

April 28, 2013|By RAYCHEL HARVEY-JONES | raychel.harvey-jones@herald-mail.com
  • After a night out drinking with friends, William Kiel Bobbitt died on May 1, 2008. He died of alcohol poisoning.
Submitted photo


Drinking excessive alcohol can kill.

That's the message Tony and Lori Bobbitt of Greencastle, Pa., are hoping to get teens to hear, because they don't want another parent to go through the nightmare they have.

On May 1, 2008, their 19-year-old son, William Kiel Bobbitt,  died from alcohol poisoning.

According to police reports, Kiel had been drinking with friends the night before. At 1 a.m. he arrived at the home and was intoxicated. The next morning around 8.30 a.m. he was found unresponsive by his housemates.

Kiel was found with a .475 alcohol level, according to the coroner's report. Pennsylvania's blood alcohol limit is .08, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Kiel was at the time a freshman at California University of Pennsylvania.

"We don't really drink alcohol so it was not an environment that Kiel was accustomed to," said Tony Bobbitt. "Like all young men we knew he had probably tried beer with his friends in Greencastle, but nothing stronger."

On the night Kiel died, he had consumed dark rum.

"Our message is not that we want everyone to stop drinking, but we want young people to understand the dangers of excessive drinking," said Lori Bobbitt.

She said it's important to recognize the signs of someone who is suffering from alcohol poisoning.

"Allowing someone to "sleep it off' is not the solution," she said. "In this case of Kiel, it caused the tragic end to which he came."

According to Mayo Clinic, alcohol poisoning has serious — and sometimes deadly — consequences when someone consumes large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. The clinic reports that drinking too much too quickly can affect a person's breathing, heart rate and gag reflex and potentially lead to coma and death.

The Bobbitts have found many young people aren't aware of the symptoms of alcohol poisoning. That's why they've been speaking to teens about the dangers of alcohol poisoning. They have spoken at various college campuses across the Tri-State area including on several occasions, Greencastle Antrim High School as well as Shippensburg University, Mount St. Mary's University, California University of Pennsylvania and various youth groups.

"When we are invited to speak to students across the region, I always start by telling them what a fun-loving young man Kiel was. He was the life and soul of the party without drinking alcohol. I don't want people to remember him only because of the way he died," Lori said.

The Bobbitts also teach the teens to do the right thing when it comes to dealing with someone they suspect has alcohol poisoning. The Bobbitts understand that his friends disagreed whether to seek medical treatment for Kiel's intoxication.

 "Sadly, the rest of the group thought it better to let him sleep it off and put a trash can near his head just in case he vomited," she said.

According to the Mayo Clinic, alcohol poisoning treatment consists of providing breathing support and intravenous fluids and vitamins until the alcohol is completely out of the body.

The Bobbitts stress that choosing your friends and making sure they are "looking out for you" is crucial.

"For Kiel, it could have even the difference between being here today to tell this story himself," Lori said.

California University of Pennsylvania has been proactive in starting the Red Watch Band program since Kiel's death.

Donna George, the university's director of alcohol and drug prevention, said the college was aware of Red Watch Band when a colleague's son died of alcohol poisoning while studying at a different university.

"There are 1,800 deaths across the country each year from excessive alcohol and we wanted to give our students the knowledge and information to be able to not only avoid this but also to help others in need," George said.

Through the program students are taught to react when they suspect a friend might have alcohol poisoning.

"With the Red Watch Band training you are taught that every second counts when dealing with someone who has consumed excessive alcohol. We started the program with student leaders, many of who were not aware of the dangers of binge drinking," George said.

About 200 students have gone through the program at the university so far including those students who are community assistance in the halls of residence, and the risk managers of each fraternity and sorority, George explained.

George said the California University of Pennsylvania would like everyone to take part in the program, but budget constraints don't allow for the training.

"Each student leaves fully certified in CPR this is the most costly aspect of the training," she said.

According to George, California University of Pennsylvania has seen a growing trend in binge drinking in recent years. Alcohol poisoning, the Mayo Clinic reports, is sometimes linked to binge drinking or rapidly downing five or more drinks in a row.

"I think students want to numb out quickly and cheaply," George said. "They are in a stressful environment and the pressure gets to them. We emphasize during the training that it is essential to be a good friend. If you have a friend that has consumed excessive alcohol, make sure they are safe."

And it's that message of being a friend that Lori Bobbitt would like teens to remember.

"If we leave one message with young people it is be responsible and be a good friend," Lori Bobbitt said.


Alcohol poisoning symptoms

Alcohol poisoning symptoms include:

Confusion, stupor

Vomiting

Seizures

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.

— Mayo Clinic



How to react when you suspect alcohol poisoning

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, 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.

— Mayo Clinic



Know more      

For more information on the Red Watch Band: www.stonybrook.edu/sb/redwatchband

Advertisement
The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|