Aware Awake Alive Saved My Daughter’s Life
Three weeks after dropping my oldest child off at college I received a call around 1:00 a.m. I didn’t recognize the number, or the area code, so I just ignored it. Then my voice mail pinged so I shuffled through the darkness and listened to the message....“Mrs. Reed this is Miranda, Jamie’s roommate, Jamie asked me to call you and 911. Jamie is in a bad way, she is very sick.” In the background I could hear men’s voices, a lot of commotion, and my daughter screaming and vomiting. Terrified, I quickly called back. “What happened? I just talked to Jamie a few hours ago, and she was fine!” My daughter’s roommate said she didn’t know what had happened. She had been woken up by a bang on her bedroom door and found Jamie on the floor vomiting and asking for help. She said that shortly after the paramedics arrived Jamie had lost consciousness. As I jumped into my car to make the five-plus hour drive, I was in a fog. I needed to know what happened to my baby, would she be ok? Oh God it wasn’t supposed to be like this!
We learned later that Jamie was the victim of a sorority hazing. She was picked up by car from her on-campus apartment, and taken to the sorority house and from there walked to two fraternity houses by the older girls. At the fraternity houses shots of vodka were laid out in the logo of the sorority and Jamie, and the other pledges, were pressured by the older girls and the fraternity boys to drink them. Jamie was singled out and given extreme amounts of alcohol. When Jamie realized that things were getting out of control, and she was no longer in a safe situation, she asked her sorority sisters to take her back to her apartment. They told her she could sleep at the sorority house, but she told them she wanted to get back to her apartment, because she didn’t feel safe anymore. The older sorority girls did not take her home, but left Jamie and four other pledges, who were also very intoxicated, to walk back to campus alone. Jamie made it to her on-campus apartment bloodied and bruised from falling several times; she went to her room alone and began vomiting and losing consciousness. She knew she was in trouble! She slid across the floor, banged on her roommate's door, and told her to call 911 and then call me. Her roommate called 911 immediately.
When I finally arrived at the ER, I was greeted by a police officer in the parking lot, and then met with the ER Doctor, who informed me that Jamie’s blood-alcohol level was 0.2 and that she had been unconscious in the ER for four hours, only waking up about 20 minutes before I arrived. She was brought in vomiting so violently that it took four different drugs to stop it, and that she had to be hung from the ceiling by her underarms, so she wouldn't aspirate in the ER. He said, “Had your daughter not gotten here when she did, she would have died. She is very lucky to be alive.” He wanted to know who did this to her and so did we. An investigation by the local police, campus police, and the university administration had begun even before we left the ER. As we were leaving a nurse came up and hugged Jamie for a longtime and crying said, “you have been given a second chance, you do realize that? You wouldn’t have survived if you hadn’t made it to the ER.” Jamie began to cry and so did I. As we drove away, I asked Jamie, “How did you know you were in trouble? How did you know to bang on Miranda’s door, and to ask her to call 911?” She replied, “It was the posters, and flyers on campus, the Aware Awake Alive posters. They have a checklist and Miranda, and I knew, because of them, that this was bad. She didn’t hesitate to call for help, because we had been taught by the Aware Awake Alive material to do just that.”
The results of the investigation: the sorority was found guilty of hazing and has been suspended from all activities until March 2012. The sorority must also go through alcohol and hazing education and work with Aware Awake Alive on campus. The fraternity was found to have supplied minors with alcohol, but because they were in a private residence, and off campus, unless Jamie chose to press civil charges, the University had no jurisdiction.
Why is Aware Awake Alive so important on college campuses? Because the danger to kids like Jamie is that they are out of their element, away from friends, away from home, but looking to make new friends and establish new social groups by joining a sorority, fraternity, or other groups. Jamie thought she was safe with the sorority sisters, but the disproportionate balance of power when these young adults look to join a fraternity, sorority, or other social group is so pervasive that even what they consider to be good choices can become dangerous. Jamie thought she could handle the situation by participating, in order to fit in, by managing the amount of alcohol she was drinking, and by staying close to the older girls. However, not having any experience with hard alcohol, she was unaware of how much was too much for a girl who weighs a little more than one hundred pounds. She thought she had it under control, not realizing that the more she tried to control the situation the more alcohol she was being given. The ER doctor estimated she was given approximately ten shots of vodka between 9:30 p.m. and midnight.
On college campuses, we have young adults in situations where on their own they are making life-and-death decisions. Aware Awake Alive and their materials and education on campuses give kids a lifeline, something to draw upon when they are in these situations. Jamie said there was no hesitation to call for help because they had been taught by Aware Awake Alive that they would not be punished for asking for help, that it was the right thing to do, and they had a checklist which immediately came to mind, because it was posted all over campus, that helped them quickly, and even in Jamie’s intoxicated state, to assess just how serious the situation was. Without Aware Awake Alive on campus I know Jamie wouldn’t have banged on her roommate's door before she lost consciousness, and even if she had that her roommate probably would have just either put her to bed with a bucket, or left her on the bathroom floor. The result would have been tragic!
Aware, Awake, Alive saved my daughter’s life!
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