Controversy surrounds 11 NOD transports
Published: Friday, November 2, 2012
Updated: Saturday, November 3, 2012 21:11
Wiess College’s annual Night of Decadence garnered attention beyond the hedges this year when outside news reports claimed 11 students were transported to the hospital on the night of the party.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is also launching an investigation into whether the vendor that served beer at NOD followed rules and good practices to ensure those served were of drinking age, according to Lt. Tana Travis, supervisor on the case.
This number of transports was confirmed by Rice Emergency Medical Services Director Lisa Basgall.
Not all of the 11 hospital transports of the night were directly related to NOD, Basgall said.
“There were 11 ambulance transports during NOD, but one of them was not related to the party,” Basgall said. “There just happened to be a non-alcohol-related medical emergency during that same time period.”
Chief of Rice University Police Department Johnny Whitehead said most of the cases occurred between approximately 12:30 a.m and 1:30 a.m.
“One of the challenges of this year’s NOD was that there were a lot of patients at the same time,” Basgall said.
Basgall said there were 24 REMS staff members on duty and that they were set up in a classroom at Wiess serving as a first-aid room. Basgall also said two trained professional EMS physicians were on the scene.
According to Basgall, REMS cared for 32 patients total in the first-aid room over the course of the night, in which they assessed patients to determine whether to send them to caregivers, back to their college or to the hospital.
Basgall said the main concern for intoxication cases is obstruction of the airway.
“If they can’t lean over a trash can on their own or cough and clear their throat, they could be lying on their back somewhere vomiting, and this could cause an airway problem that could cause death,” Basgall said. “That’s why people need to go to the hospital.”
According to Basgall, if EMS determines that a patient must be sent to a hospital, the hospital would primarily be monitoring the patient to ensure that he or she can maintain his or her own airway. Basgall said that the type of monitoring done in the hospital is not within the scope of practice of either REMS or caregivers.
One of the head caregivers for NOD, Adeola Adegabi, said all caregivers are trained to deal with patients in danger of choking on their own vomit.
“All the caregivers on-duty had been trained prior to the event to know what to do if that was the case,” Adegabi, a Wiess College sophomore, said. “If it got to the point that we had to question the safety of the person we were helping, we could call REMS who was just a minute away.”
Former REMS In-Charge Jenny Groover said she believes REMS pressures students into being transported to the hospital because REMS feels it is more liable if the patient is not transported.
“Several Rice students have definitely been reluctantly and unnecessarily transported by ambulance to the hospital because they felt compelled by REMS,” Groover, a Jones College senior, said.
Groover said that life-threateningly intoxicated patients would likely be intubated and put on a respirator. The patients would then likely have to stay in the hospital for 24 hours after being taken off the respirator, according to Groover.
“If an intoxicated patient was released after a few hours, chances are either no treatments were done, the patient was watched among many other patients as the student sobered up, or IV fluids were given,” Groover said.
All 11 students were released from hospitals within a few hours and were back on campus by Sunday morning, according to Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson.
Groover, who quit her position at REMS because of disagreements with the organization’s leadership practices, now works for a 911 ambulance agency. She said it is general practice for EMS teams to recommend an ambulance transport, but that REMS sometimes pressures patients more than usual.