The situation is so dire, paramedics are having a tough time keeping up.

Dan Noyes of ABC San Francisco reports.

Binge drinking at UC Berkeley strains EMS system

Berkeley has a drinking problem. An increasing number of Cal students are getting so drunk, paramedics have to take them to the hospital, and it’s putting a serious strain on emergency services for the entire city.

In an exclusive I-Team investigation, Dan Noyes shows us what’s called a “barf bib,” the name by which it’s sold. Since the start of the school year — just over two months — paramedics have used these more than a hundred times on drunken Cal students to take them to the hospital.

Fire Dispatch: “Medical emergency District Three.”

The start of this school year caught UC Berkeley officials, campus police, and city fire by surprise. Never before in one night have so many students gotten so drunk that they needed an ambulance to take them to the hospital.

Fire Dispatch: “Berkeley 1, Engine 5, we need an ambulance for a second patient, 2715 Channing.”

Fire department reports and dispatch recordings obtained by the ABC7 News I-Team under the California Public Records Act tell the story. On Sunday night, Aug 25, the calls came in from frat houses, sororities, and dorms.

Fire Dispatch: “20-year-old male ETOH.”

ETOH, that’s shorthand for ethyl alcohol, someone who’s in danger of alcohol poisoning.

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates tells us, “I think we had something like 18 calls, and so we were transporting. It was a major concern, because actually, you know, the ambulances we have are limited, so they had basically taken all of the city’s capacity.”

Berkeley fire tells us the department’s seven fire engines, two ladder trucks, and three ambulances were so busy, they had to call for mutual aid. Ambulances from surrounding cities rushed to help.

“As we would respond to one group to the campus for one patient, another call would come in,” Berkeley Fire Deputy Chief Avery Webb said.

At 1:37 that morning, a crew notes “extremely high call volume at UC Berkeley causing delays in obtaining ambulance transport.” A fire truck was there, but the patient had to wait twenty minutes for an ambulance to take them to the hospital.