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Spring Fling 2015 Carnival Credit: Guyrandy Jean-GIlles , Guyrandy Jean-GIlles

Spring Fling is a defining part of the Penn experience — but for some students, the desire to have a good time can take precedence over concern about possible risks to their health and safety.

“Honestly, I’d never been MERTed or blacked out or anything before my first Fling,” said Jacob, a Wharton junior who chose not to use his last name to protect his privacy. “And then I was completely gone and had fallen down half a flight of stairs in the Quad, seriously tearing a muscle in my leg. Luckily someone was able to get me help. I told my parents I had been kicking around a soccer ball.”

Jacob is one of many students who has had to make a visit to the hospital because of Fling celebrations. Every year, people suffer from both alcohol-related and non-alcohol-related health issues and injuries during the festivities.

The Medical Emergency Response Team, Student Health Services and the Division of Public Safety work together during Fling to ensure that students receive the help they need in such cases.

During both the Friday and Saturday events, around 25 EMTs will be on call in the Quadrangle and at Franklin Field. Ambulances will also be on standby for students who require hospital care.

The entire MERT leadership is mobilized for Fling and serves to help adult EMT crews. MERT Medical Director Alvin Wang will work as an EMS physician on both days, in conjunction with a contracted emergency physician from Penn Presbyterian Medical Center on Friday night.

Students in need of assistance should look for roaming workers as well as the medical treatment and observational facilities that will be set up at each venue.

Wang, who worked as a physician at Made in America this past fall, said that preparations for Fling are made similarly to the popular musical festival, only on a smaller scale.

“We have stretchers, medications, IV fluid, defibrillators placed in accessible areas out in the field like at Made in America,” he said. “But on the whole, I think Penn students are better prepared to face health issues than the general public that attends [Made in America].”

The medical teams on staff are prepared to address alcohol-related emergencies in addition to other common problems, like asthma attacks, trips and falls and environmental emergencies like dehydration and heat stroke.

In part, these problems are exacerbated because students neglect their basic needs in the effort to “get the most out of the Fling experience,” SHS Executive Director Giang Nguyen said.

One Engineering sophomore, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was MERTed last year because of sleep deprivation in addition to alcohol consumption.

“By Saturday I was running on basically four hours of sleep,” she said. “I passed out at a party and my friends couldn’t get me to stand up. I felt like I was going to miss out if I took a break but then ended up at the hospital for the last part of Fling.”

Students are encouraged to make sure they get the rest they need in order to operate at their fullest during the festivities. This means a full eight hours of sleep as well as naps, if needed, Nguyen said. Drinking water, Gatorade and other un-caffeinated beverages as well as eating carbohydrates and protein-laden food can also mediate the effects of alcohol and exhaustion.

Nguyen emphasized that implementing the buddy system is important to prevent health and safety problems.

“Watch out for each other,” he said. “Some of the situations I’ve seen in the past occur because somebody is off by themselves ... Don’t be afraid to volunteer as the ‘designated driver’ who watches out for your friends.”

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