Preparing for Polar Bear

It is the biggest party weekend of the year at one of our local universities and the ER doctors are gearing up for the festivities, too.

Every year, the winter bash called “Polar Bear” sends people to the Carbondale Memorial Hospital Emergency Room.

In the SIU Student Center, it was the calm before the storm as students nailed down their start times at the local bars.

The drinking begins at breakfast.

“I’m cooking, I think, Rumchata pancakes and mimosas, a little Polar Bear brunch,” said SIU graduate student Jenna Dosch.

If you’ve never heard of Polar Bear, sophomore CJ Bathiany has a quick definition.

“8:00 am to 3:00 am, you’re drinking,” said Bathiany.

Doctor Gerald McClallen says a party that starts at a bar can very easily end in his emergency room.

“Alcohol is the number one abused recreational drug seen in the emergency department,” said McClallen.

He says on Polar Bear weekend, the number of ER visits sky-rockets.

Beds and resources are so exhausted in the ER on Polar Bear weekend that it is all hands on deck.

“Physicians and nurses on back-up call should we need to call them in,” said McClallen.

McClallen says alcohol poisoning is not the only thing he will see in his ER.

“Facial fractures, jaw fractures, head injuries, lacerations, hypothermia or cold exposure,” said McClallen.

He knows a tradition like Polar Bear is not going anywhere, so he urges everyone to be responsible.

“Drink in moderation and know your limits,” said McClallen.

The university does not host this event.

They want to remind students of alternative activities at the Health Center and the Student Union.

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