Peter Caty/the Mirror

For those who have forgotten about speed dial because technology has advanced to Skyping while you talk on the phone, it is time to remember the basics about the purpose of a phone.

“Everyone at Fairfield should have 4090 programmed into their phone on speed dial,” Judith Weindling, director of the Health Center at Fairfield University, said. Frank Ficko, Associate Director of the Department of Public Safety agrees. But what exactly is 4090?

For the upperclassman, it is the new and improved 2241.  For the underclassman, it is your safe bet at getting your friend, classmate or even yourself the medical attention needed after a night of excessive drinking, without the worry of having a permanent record.

Extension 4090, properly known as “Medical Amnesty,” is a policy, that Fairfield and another 100 colleges across the nation, made a part of their campus life to protect students seeking medical attention due to alcohol and/or drug related issues from legal action.

The purpose? To reduce the hesitation to call for medical attention caused by the fear of possible legal action. It works like this: If you or a friend has one too many drinks and is in need of medical attention, hit your speed dial for 4090.

This call is directed to the Department of Public Safety, where they will ask you for the name of the student seeking help, your location and phone number.  Public safety will come to you, evaluate the student in need and will proceed accordingly.

The Fairfield University student handbook states, “It shall be the policy and procedure of University staff to err on the side of caution when determining if a student should be brought to the Health Center or transported to the hospital for evaluation.”

“The concept that we struggle with is that students say they don’t want to call because they will get in trouble,” Ficko said, “but Public Safety is a safe haven for students who need medical attention.” In a survey of 50 Fairfield University undergraduate students, 45 percent admitted to this hesitation of calling.

If a situation arises where the thought to call 4090 crosses your mind, you probably should have already called.

The reality is that college students binge drink.  Binge drinking is a serious issue on college campuses, and Fairfield University implemented the Medical Amnesty program to make students aware that their “safety is of prime concern,” according the Weindling.

“I’ve only been at school a month and I’ve already witnessed more than five people being taken out on stretchers for drinking too much. I had expected there would be those few who would go overboard but I didn’t expect to see the mass amount of people getting this sick so early into the school year. Its frightening and I don’t think educated people enough,” said Bridget Butler ‘14.

In the past, these calls were first received by the Health Center and then directed to Public Safety. The Department of Public Safety at Fairfield University is notable.  In 2008 they were awarded with the National Jeanne Clery Campus Safety award for our university’s comprehensive emergency response plan and their overall commitment to peer education and prevention.

In addition, each public safety officer on our campus is a certified EMT, and is trained to evaluate a variety of situations that may arise, one being an intoxicated student. Therefore, students should see our DPS as helpful, not hurtful.  In no way is the DPS or the dean’s office trying to get you in trouble, as many students tend to believe.

A first alcohol offense does not require a fine, rather  you have to meet with either an Area Coordinator or administrator to discuss what happened.  Weindling refers to this as an “educational intervention.”

The administration has done a lot to encourage students to use the 4090 extension.  The protocol for alcohol offenses have been tweaked, with hopes that students will not be afraid to call for help if the situation arises.

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