Zeta Beta Tau hosted a panel to inform students about the importance of calling 911 in the case of alcohol and drug-related emergencies on Thursday in IV Theater. Panelists included UCPD Sergeant Matt Bowman, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Anthony Nunez, and Student Health Alcohol and Drug counselor Naj Alikhan.
Cody Taylor, president of Zeta Beta Tau, said he wanted to create the event to inform the UCSB community about how to recognize and act in emergency situations after a recent experience when three of his friends overdosed on drugs. He found himself unprepared to handle the situation. Eventually, he called 911 and his friends got the help they needed, but it made him realize the importance of acting quickly and not hesitating to call for help in an emergency.
The panel answered questions from the audience, which consisted mostly of members of Greek life and other on-campus organizations. Panelists focused on debunking common myths about the process of calling 911 and reinforcing the importance of getting help quickly in the event of an overdose.
Although an ambulance ride typically costs around $2,000, students with Gaucho Health Insurance pay nothing out-of-pocket, Alikhan said. Additionally, there is no charge for an evaluation; it is not until a person is transported to the hospital that they will be charged. The right time to call 911, the panelists agreed, is “as soon as you think it can be helpful.”
The audience also asked about how to tell when someone is overdosing. Signs of overdose depend on the drug, Nunez said. Some signs include unresponsiveness, excessive vomiting, increased heart rate, abnormal breathing, and pale skin.
If someone has taken drugs or consumed alcohol and they are experiencing any of these signs, 911 should be called right away. When calling 911, Nunez said to tell the dispatcher the location of the emergency and the type of situation. This helps dispatchers to send the right resources.
The panelists stressed that if someone is in danger, calling for help is always better than the alternative. California legislation gives people immunity from possession or use of illegal substances if they call emergency services for themselves or others. Moreover, calling 911 will not impact an individual’s immigration status.
“911 is a tough call. I get it,” Bowman said. “But really the right decision is to keep your friend safe.”