This week we heard the story of Gary Reinbach, who died aged 22 from multiple organ failure brought about by alcoholic hepatitis. This tragic case brings into sharp focus the growing problem of under-age drinking in our country, which can lead to serious health problems, and for some, early death. Yesterday’s Guardian newspaper ran a short story from a north west paramedic (Steve Evans) who recalled his shocking experience from a night’s patrol in Widnes, in which he collected several children (aged 11 and 13) unconscious through drink.
I would like to pay tribute to the work of Steve whose campaign called ‘Don’t Walk Away’ is trying to raise awareness amongst teenagers of the dangers of alcohol and choking/hypothermia, and offering advice to them about the need to send for an ambulance and the importance of the recovery position.
Steve and colleagues are trying to tackle a national problem which in my view is symptomatic of our broken society. As with all of the problems we face as a nation there is something each of us can do to help; we can set an example to young people in relation to alcohol, we can be role models, we can not walk by on the other side of the road when we see youngsters in drunken difficulty, and crucially we can press policy makers to ensure that education is dramatically increased on the dangers of drinking at a young age, and excessive drinking at any age. As a nation, and as individuals, we have to do more.