This article regards the harassment I suffered on Friday night, by PSafe officers, during the Tour de Franzia. I was at the fountain backyard and am not ashamed to say that I separated from my friends because I had to vomit. I was then approached by two PSafe officers who without consulting me judged that I needed to be hospitalized, even though I was conscious and talking to them. Even our Alcohol Edu online course teaches students that only vomiting is not enough justification to send a person to the hospital; rather, if I were unconscious or not making sense. But as I said, this was not the case (In the hospital, they tried to convince me that because I vomited there was a risk of me choking on vomit during my sleep, which doesn’t make sense since people get rid of excessive alcohol when they vomit, so I was most likely at a lower risk of vomiting again than other people in that backyard).
As I was telling the officers that I didn’t need to go to the hospital, they both took me by the arms and dragged me by force to the ambulance, also placing me on the stretcher by force. I have friends who saw me trying to wrestle out of the officers’ grip and can testify to how aggressive they were as well as that I did not need hospitalization. One of my friends who witnessed the incident came forward to argue in my defense to the officers. I was even sitting on the stretcher arguing with the officers and paramedics, but they refused to listen to me. Other boys also gathered around to protest what they were doing, and my friend told me that once I left they started physically pushing the boys away and even arrested one of the boys for “getting in their way.”
In my opinion, as well as everyone’s to whom I have talked to so far, this is completely unacceptable and abusive behavior on their part, and there is no one yet who thought that that was an agreeable thing to do. I woke up at around 7:30 in the hospital, and had been completely stripped of my belongings. I asked to leave, and they prohibited me to do so until my alcohol level dropped to 0.08, which is the driving limit, and again makes no sense as a parameter since I wasn’t going to drive home anyway. They “breathalized” me (which at least in Brazilian law where I am from, I should not be forced to do) and refused to give me my cellphone so that I could let my friends know where I was and that I was okay, because for all they knew I just suddenly disappeared and I knew they would be worried.
I told all this to a friend of mine who is a nurse intern and she said that patients are allowed to leave the hospital if they want; also, she said that nurses do give back a patient’s phone even when they ask for it immediately after surgery, and that it is wrong that they refused to give mine when I asked for it. I didn’t need glucose, an adrenaline shot, or even IV fluids, and on top of that, all the time I was awake no one even offered me a glass of water, which obviously is the first thing you give someone if you want them to sober up, and to me that is a clear indication that no one in that hospital really believed I needed help, again confirming the unfairness of my being there. They told me to go back to sleep because I would still need some time for the alcohol to leave my system. I was also on the middle of the hallway and had to complain to have my bed put in the room with the other boys present.
I woke up again at 10, and only a half hour later did a nurse come in offering a glass of ginger ale, still no water. I asked for water myself and from the third glass on I just got up and started pouring myself water, since I would clearly not have any help from them to get me out of there as soon as possible. I also had to ask for something to eat, because I just wanted my level to drop fast to get out. I got to the point of just being up and chatting to the nurse, “doing time” while binging on water and in need of no assistance whatsoever to justify my being there. In the end, this action by the PSafe officers just wasted my time and the hospital’s, as well as taking up ER space and resources which could be used with people who actually need it, and generating unnecessary costs.
I am sure everyone knows that the drinking age in my country, Brazil, is 18, which even though it doesn’t justify me going against US drinking age law, at least allows me to affirm that I have experience drinking and know that this was a very invasive overreaction of the officers. I am sure if a regular police officer saw someone vomiting they wouldn’t force them to go to the hospital. Now, I don’t know if the Wesleyan Health Insurance covers the costs of the ambulance and ER, but if they don’t, I assure you that I will raise great noise and refuse to pay for something that I was forced into while I was conscious and without my consent. It is my belief that they were doing this forcefully simply so that they can create shock at the number of hospitalized students to create a negative image of the Tour; however, there is no way anyone could convince me now that any of these statistics are at all credible, and I think no one else should either, because what they were actually doing was harassing students instead of protecting them as they should. I did not feel protected, I felt violated, and that to me is unacceptable.