The drinking deaths of Samantha Spady and Lynn "Gordie" Bailey have caused Anthony Rossi to take action.
Rossi, a senior biological sciences major and pre-med student at the University of Colorado-Boulder, has formed Student Emergency Medical Services, a program that he hopes will prevent others from dying because of alcohol consumption.
"People are dying because 911 is not being called and people do not see the emergency happening," Rossi said. "That is why we need to reach into the social scene and do something about it."
Student Emergency Medical Services will have volunteers from CU at certain Greek parties and social events to be on-call if anything goes wrong. The volunteers will have certifications in emergency medicine and also have a "safe-zone" set up so people know where to find them if needed.
"We will be there to make things safe and to save lives," Rossi said.
The idea came to Rossi last summer, but as classes began last fall he put his thoughts on the back burner. However, after his peers died he believed it was time to resurrect the program. Rossi is the founding chaplain of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity at CU.
While the program will first start out to serve the Greek community, Rossi said he wants the program to develop and be offered to any student who is having a party. No similar services exist at CSU right now, but Rossi said the first university the program will move on to is CSU.
Students hosting the party will sign contracts removing liability from the program and its volunteers if they do not uphold their responsibilities and make sure everyone involved is following the same guidelines.
Ron Stump, vice chancellor of student affairs at CU, is supporting what Rossi is doing and thinks it will be a very helpful way to curtail the problem of binge drinking.
"I like seeing students taking an active role in helping other students' lives," Stump said. "It's great that students are recognizing an issue that needs to be dealt with."
Stump does have concerns about the program, however. The university wants to make sure that the students who are volunteering are getting adequate training from quality doctors and that liability issues are worked out, he said.
"I think it's a great idea and admire them for what they are taking on," Stump said.
The organization, upon recognition of an emergency, will be prepared to provide care for the concerned individual and immediately dial for help and medical transport when needed. The volunteers also will make rounds and have signs posted at the party area to direct people to the safe-zone.
Student Emergency Medical Services does not want to interfere with parties or invade people's privacy.
"We are not there to police the scene or bust parties," Rossi said. "We can't be seen as an authority or force; we are just there to recognize emergencies when they are occurring."
Laura Strohminger, director of greek affairs at CU, supports of Rossi's plan and program and believes it will help.
"This is raising awareness to people and making them aware of certain risks that can occur at parties," Strohminger said.
Student Emergency Medical Services is a nonprofit organization and so far has received donations from numerous medical suppliers and funding from the CU student government.
"This is a wonderful way to apply training to prevent deaths from occurring," Rossi said.
The program so far has a "huge" staff and hopes to be able to provide one volunteer for every 50 people at a party. The aim is to have two to three volunteers at most parties or however many it will take to make sure sufficient medical care is provided.
"People need to realize that we are students, too. We're your peers," Rossi said. "We understand what goes on in college life and we will be there to help."