A public health enforcement initiative to combat underage drinking using emergency medical services call data

Daniel L. Lemkin, Michael C. Bond, Donald W. Alves, Richard A. Bissell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective The objective of this study was to determine whether Emergency Medical Services (EMS) records can identify bars that serve a disproportionate number of minors, and if government officials will use this data to direct underage drinker enforcement efforts. Methods: Emergency Medical Services call logs to all bars in the study area were cross-referenced with a local hospital's records. The records of patients with alcohol-related complaints were analyzed. Outlier bars were identified, and presented to government officials who completed a survey to assess if this information would prompt new enforcement efforts. Results: Emergency Medical Services responded to 149 establishments during the study period. Eighty-four responses were distributed across six bars, and 78 were matched with the hospital's records. Fifty-one patients, 18 (35%) of whom were underage, were treated for alcohol intoxication, with 46% of the cases originating from four bars. Government officials found the information useful, and planned to initiate new operations based on the information. Conclusion:s Alcohol consumption by minors can lead to life-long abuse, with high personal, financial, and societal costs. Emergency Medical Services response data and hospital records can be used to identify bars that allow underage drinking, which is useful in directing law enforcement efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-171
Number of pages5
JournalPrehospital and disaster medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • EMS
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • enforcement
  • underage drinking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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