For the Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas Level I trauma center, the alcohol-fueled revelry of Texas-OU weekend typically leads to an increase in our number of patients as compared to an average weekend.
Due to its close proximity to the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park and because Baylor Dallas is a Level I trauma center, many of those who are injured while celebrating at the game or related festivities are transported here.
In 2010, the number of patients seen on the day of the Texas-OU game was up 8 percent as compared to an average Saturday. In 2011, the game day patient increase was 10 percent over a typical Saturday, while in 2012 the emergency department saw a 2 percent increase.
Injuries may include deep cuts and lacerations that require stitches, open fractures (bones protruding through skin) or head injuries. Many of the injuries can be associated with binge drinking and are attributed to a wide range of causes, including falls, motor vehicle collisions and violence.
Serious violence tied to the Red River Showdown includes a 1992 incident in which a 19-year-old man was shot and killed after an argument over a minor traffic accident. In 2010, nearly 50 people were arrested overnight in downtown Dallas before the Texas-Oklahoma game, mostly for public intoxication.
According to a University of Texas study, football game days were among the heaviest days for alcohol consumption, comparable to consumption on other well-known drinking days, such as New Year’s Eve and Halloween. Further, heavy alcohol use causes 80,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, and binge drinking accounts for more than half of these deaths, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.
Recent studies show that one in six Americans “binge drink” at least four times per month. Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks on a single occasion for men or four or more drinks on a single occasion for women, generally within about two hours.
With the June announcement that the Red River Showdown will stay in Dallas until at least 2025, it is important to know the impact that the game could have on you and your family, even if you do not partake in the game and surrounding events. Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to drive while impaired by alcohol.
The CDC offers safety steps to avoid impaired driving. The CDC says that when your social plans involve alcohol, you should make plans to avoid driving afterward. For example:
- Prior to any drinking, designate a non-drinking driver when with a group.
- Don’t let your friends drive impaired. Take their keys away.
- If you have been drinking, get a ride home or call a taxi.
- If you’re hosting a party where alcohol will be served, remind your guests to plan ahead and designate their sober driver; offer alcohol-free beverages; and make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.
For more information about substance abuse prevention and treatment services, you can call the National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
You may also join the Baylor Dallas Level I Trauma Center Facebook Group TraumaSTAT.