The danger of heavy drinking and drug use by school leavers should not be downplayed ahead of this year’s Matric celebrations.
With thousands of matriculants set to descend on KwaZulu-Natal’s coastal towns for their festive season revelry, Rescue Care Paramedics have been placed on high alert.
Hundreds of teenage revellers, on the back of months of exams, often overindulge and place themselves in more danger than they are aware by drinking too much.
Rescue Care Operations Director Garrith Jamieson said that in the past, hundreds of teens have been hospitalised.
“The partygoers get caught up in the vibe and atmosphere as coastal towns like Ballito, Umhlanga and Amanzimtoti take on a new image as swathes of tourists from across the country arrive to celebrate the end of their exams,” he said.
“Every year we are called in to deal with cases where teenagers have overdosed on recreational drugs. We also deal with many cases where partygoers drink in excess and it is important that members of the public are made aware of the dangers that are associated with binge drinking and drug use,” the veteran paramedic said.
Binge drinking used to mean drinking heavily over several days. Now, however, the term refers to the heavy consumption of alcohol over a short period of time.
It is not always being intoxicated that is dangerous but more the unintentional injuries that are sustained as a result.
These include motor vehicle crashes, falls, burns, drowning, and hypothermia.
Alcohol poisoning can be a fatal result of binge drinking. Alcohol affects the central nervous system, slowing breathing and heart rate. It also interferes with the gag reflex, which increases the risk of choking on vomit, if the drinker passes out from excess drinking. Blood alcohol levels can continue to rise even if a person passes out.
If a person who has been drinking heavily is confused, vomits, has a seizure, has pale skin, or becomes unconscious, it may be a sign of alcohol poisoning.
Jamieson added that because of the high demand, reserve staff would be called in and extra ambulances stationed at strategic points in coastal towns in the case of any emergency.
Someone suffering from alcohol poisoning will not be aware enough to help themselves. When you are with a group of people drinking, it is important to look out for signs of alcohol poisoning and know what to do when someone has had too much to drink.
Following the advice below could save someone’s life.
What you should do
If you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning, dial 0860 737 911 and ask for an ambulance. While you are waiting:
• try to keep them sitting up and awake
• give them water if they can drink it
• If they have passed out, lie them on their side in the recovery position and check they are breathing properly
• keep them warm
• stay with them and monitor their symptoms
“It is a time of year when celebrations are at their height. A death or injury during this time is senseless, be safe,” Jamieson said.
Issued by Rescue Care