Red Watch Band

What is Toxic Drinking?

Over 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, (NIAAA). This is not only a tragedy for the families but for all of us. These deaths are preventable.

Toxic drinking is an epidemic on campuses all across America. It means consuming so much alcohol the drinker passes out. But while "sleeping it off," the victim may be quietly dying. When you come right down to it, it's a problem that only students can tackle. The Red Watch Band movement is designed to end alcohol overdose deaths by teaching students how to handle alcohol emergencies and summon professional help.

The goal of the RED WATCH BAND campaign is to insure that all students are provided with accurate information about the dangers of alcohol use and know when, where and how to get help when every second counts.

Every Second Counts

The mission of the Red Watch Band program is to provide campus community members with the knowledge, awareness, and skills to prevent student toxic drinking deaths and to promote a student culture of kindness, responsibility, compassion, and respect.

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About Red Watch

In June 2008, a Stony Brook University faculty member lost her son to acute alcohol overdose while he was finishing his freshman year away at college.

Upon hearing this news, President Shirley Strum Kenny commissioned Milton Glaser to design an education awareness campaign on preventing drinking deaths on college campuses. Alcohol and Other Drug Specialists and student leaders at Stony Brook developed a comprehensive bystander intervention program offered to all students.

The primary component of the program is a four-hour training session in which participants learn how to recognize alcohol emergencies and respond effectively. All participants who complete the RWB training receive CPR certification and are able to understand how alcohol emergencies are medical emergencies that require immediate, professional care.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why the Red Watch?

The Red Watch symbolizes the "band" of students who are trained to "watch" over one another when "every second counts."

2. Is this a medical amnesty program?

No. RWB as a training program does not prescribe how institutions should approach the issue of medical amnesty with regard to a campus conduct code. Our hope is that because RWB training includes coverage of your institution's policies regarding alcohol and other drug use; it will serve as a starting point for productive dialogue between students and administration about the effectiveness of existing alcohol policies.

3. Is this a Good Samaritan law program?

No. RWB is a voluntary training program that is designed to focus on the importance of bystander intervention in order to prevent death from alcohol overdose. The goal is to create culture change by helping students understand the importance of recognizing alcohol overdose as a medical emergency and the toxicity that comes with binge drinking. It also provides students with concrete skills and the confidence to intervene which we believe will increase numbers of calls made on behalf of others.

4. Is this an abstinence program?

No. RWB is a training program focused on knowledge, skill, and confidence building regarding preventing death from alcohol overdose. While we do believe that over time, a program such as this will help to change drinking culture on campuses as students are better able to link the impact that alcohol has on the body, this is not a primary prevention program. Students are taught the knowledge and skills to "make the call," and using role plays, given opportunities to build confidence to intervene on behalf of another.

5. How long has this program been in existence?

This program started March 15, 2009 at Stony Brook University, and was launched nationally in early May 2009.

6. How is Red Watch Band funded?

At Fairfield University, the program receives primary funding through a grant from the Connecticut State Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

7. Why do you include CPR training?

The 2.5 hour American Heart Association's HeartSavers training is used both to give students certification in a clear set of skills, as well as help provide context for the medical seriousness of unconsciousness or semi-consciousness. By including CPR certification, the program attracts a wide range of students from those who initially value the CPR certification more than the alcohol emergency portion of the training to those who are very committed to responding to alcohol-related emergencies, but are uncertain about how to intervene most helpfully. Furthermore, it furthers the overall health of the campus community by increasing the number of campus community members who are CPR certified and trained in AED use. Fairfield Corps has partnered with department of Public Safety to provide the full training.

8. Who teaches the program?

Health educators and alcohol and other drug specialists teach and facilitate the alcohol emergency portion of the program. Fairfield Corps Advisory Board members have also been trained to provide instruction. CPR instructors from Public Safety provide the CPR certification.

Fairfield University Student Training

To earn your red watch band, please attend a 3.5 hour training session that includes alcohol education and CPR certification.

To find out when the next available class is, or to register, please contact Pam Paulmann at or call (203) 254-4000 ext. 2369 for further information.