NiLL: No Lives Lost
A policy for the prevention of death or injury by alcohol poisoning
Effective October 1, 2008
Take a group of underage juveniles drinking together. Mix in inexperience with drinking behavior and little knowledge of the effects of alcohol on the body’s central nervous system. Someone drinks to excess and becomes incoherent and ill. The person may pass out, stumble, vomit or act in erratic ways. Others around them become nervous and panic…juveniles may not know what to do and they don’t want to get into trouble for underage drinking. Therefore, underage persons are often reluctant to seek emergency medical assistance for another and don’t recognize the symptoms of alcohol poisoning and its potentially deadly consequences. Instead of seeking medical assistance, the juvenile puts the intoxicated person in an area where he or she can ‘sleep it off’ or transports the person to other areas away from the party and drops the intoxicated friend off unattended…not realizing that the blood alcohol level of a person continues to rise even after the last drink is consumed. Juveniles often do not know that a person can only metabolize alcohol at a fixed rate of about one drink per hour and that alcohol is toxic. Nor does the juvenile realize that alcohol at higher levels suppresses the gag reflex increasing the risk of choking. It suppresses a person’s respiration and may cause shallow breathing or coma to result. Heart rate slows down; death could (and does) result from alcohol poisoning. Because of fear and confusion and the hesitation or refusal to call for emergency medical attention a tragedy occurs shattering the lives of everyone involved.
An underage individual who calls seeking emergency assistance for an alcohol related emergency on the behalf of another would not be subject to a criminal complaint for the possession/consumption of alcohol under certain circumstances. He/She must stay on the line with emergency dispatchers, remain with the person in need and cooperate fully with emergency medical staff and police officials. Following the incident the juvenile would meet with the Administrator of the Division of Youth & Family Services to discuss the matter together with parents. In lieu of a legal complaint an intervention plan will be put into place which includes participation in and completion of an educational program on the effects of alcohol and drugs.
An underage person in need of medical help for an alcohol related illness or injury would not be subject to an underage consumption or possession charge. He/She would instead be required to meet with the Administrator of the Division of Youth & Family Services to discuss the matter together with their parents. In place of a legal complaint an intervention plan will be put into place. Specifically, the person involved would be referred for a chemical dependency assessment. The juvenile then must follow all of the recommendations of the assessment including treatment if indicated as well as participate in an educational program on the effects of alcohol and drugs.
In the event of an alcohol related incident where a juvenile required emergency medical assistance for an alcohol related injury or illness, the police will respond and handle the incident and emergency as usual. However, in lieu of sending a referral to the Juvenile Court, the case would be diverted directly to the Division of Youth & Family Services for intervention under the NiLL policy. Failure to follow through with meetings and intervention programming would result in appropriate charges for possession or consumption of alcohol brought forth by the NOPD. A ninety (90) day limit for compliance will be established from the date of incident.