Sunday, August 23, 2015

Aware Awake Alive

On Dec. 2, 2008, following a fraternity hazing ritual, Julia and Scott Starkey’s son Carson died of acute alcohol poisoning. Following his death, the Starkey family formed Aware Awake Alive, a nonprofit that prevents loss of life to alcohol poisoning by educating teens, young adults and parents on its symptoms and empowering them with the necessary tools and resources. Here is the Starkey story.

Carson was compelled to drink large quantities of alcohol; he became unresponsive. Sigma Alpha Epsilon members put Carson in a vehicle to take him to the hospital but ultimately abandoned the trip for fear of getting themselves and their fraternity in trouble. They returned to the house and left Carson on a mattress; he never woke up. Carson died—unresponsive, not monitored, and abandoned on a mattress. He died from acute alcohol poisoning; his blood alcohol level was .40.

His friends are now living with the consequences of what they didn’t do that night. They didn’t realize they could be charged with a felony. One students says it cost his family $160,000 in legal fees and $500,000 in a civil suit settlement. He says it opened his eyes to the real issue. “You have to be extremely careful and look after your friends.”

Aware Awake Alive was created in August of 2011 by Carson’s family and it works with parents and educators throughout the United States to educate young people on the symptoms of alcohol poisoning, create awareness on the conditions that enable it, and encourage responsibility for one another in situations where alcohol is consumed.

Aware Awake Alive is driven by a core belief and philosophy that lives can and will be saved simply by working together. They aim to partner with like-minded individuals and organizations while encouraging an atmosphere of shared responsibility among young people, their peers, parents, and educators.

Many events are held each year to enhance the program. Just this past April, they raised $6,000 for educational scholarships. The family is turning their personal tragedy into something positive with their work. They believe the loss of Carson has given them a unique  gift to serve and help others.

Many web sites can give much insight to this problem: The Medical Amnesty Initiative, The Gordie Foundation, Red Watch program, CNN Health, Keep Friendships Alive, Face Project and 911 Lifeline Legislation. This last site talks about the Texas legislation, led by Senator Kirk Watson, limiting immunity if you try to get help to save someone’s life.

Education is one of the key factors in creating awareness around the dangers of binge drinking. Here are some of the signs and facts about binge drinking.

If you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning, even if you don’t see the classic signs and symptoms, seek immediate medical care. In an emergency, call 911 immediately. Even if the person has stopped drinking, alcohol continues to be released into the bloodstream and the level of alcohol in the body continues to rise. Never assume that a person will sleep it off.

If the person is conscious, call 800-222-1222 in the U.S. and you’ll automatically be routed to your local poison control center for help.

Be prepared to provide information and if you know, the kind and amount of alcohol the person drank and when. Don’t leave an unconscious person alone or try to make him/her vomit.

Finally, here are some facts you should know:
1.      31% of college students meet national criteria for alcohol abuse diagnosis.
2.      According to the CDC, every year more than 80,000 U.S. deaths are the result of binge drinking.
3.      1 in 3 college students and 1 in 4 high school students are binge drinking.
4.      6 people under 21 die from non-driving alcohol related accidents every day.
5.      5. 90% of alcoholic beverages consumed by those under 21 are while binge drinking.
6.      Nearly 2,000 students die from alcohol-related injuries each year.

About Carson…
In his short life, Carson accomplished much. He looked at the world around him and saw limitless possibilities. He approached life with a practical tenacity that led him to pursue every path that caught his interest with vigor, intelligence and an uncanny intuition. In high school, he lettered four years on the Austin High tennis team while also running on the cross-country team his freshman and sophomore years then playing lacrosse his junior and senior years. Carson began running in races and events around Austin at the age of 6, competing in the Capital 10K nine times. His love for architecture led him to intern at Page Sutherland Page during high school. He then attended Cal Poly State University where he was majoring in architectural engineering. He graduated in the top 10% of his high school class, served on the Austin High Hall of Honor Leaders Council, and made the Dean's List at Cal Poly State University.

Carson will always be remembered by family and friends as a shining example of the right way to live and love this life.

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