Rachael’s First Week: Mom develops educational program following daughter’s death at college
WESTFIELD, Ind. – Students will soon head off to college, many for the first time. There will be new experiences which come with danger. A program called Rachael’s First Week is working to highlight those and teach young people to be cautious while still having a life-changing experience in college.
Rachael Fiege was an athlete, a volunteer, a friend and a daughter. Six years ago, she was moving into her dorm at Indiana University. She was eager to get started. Unfortunately, she never had the chance to make it past her first week on campus.
“It brings me to tears every time,” said Angi Fiege, Rachael’s mother and Founder of Rachael’s First Week.
During the evening of August 22, 2013, she fell down some stairs and hit her head. Her mother says she had no outward physical signs of injury. Her friends did not think she was hurt, and they laid her down on a couch. The next morning, someone noticed Rachael did not look right. She was not breathing, so they called 911. EMS crews worked to revive her. They were able to get back a pulse, and they transported her to the local hospital. She had been in cardiac arrest four times already that morning, and a few hours later she died.
Her mother now tells the story of this tragic night over and over again to groups of high schoolers, college students, sororities and fraternities across the state.
Rachael’s First Week resources and educational programs were developed through the vision of Angi Fiege, MD, an Indiana University Health Emergency Medicine, Critical Care, Trauma, ICU, physician, following the death of her daughter, Rachael Fiege, an incoming freshman at Indiana University.
“They can actually save a life,” said Angi.
Rachael’s First Week encourages young people to look out for each other. Not just with alcohol, but sexual assault, drugs and other risky behaviors.
- Know the laws
- Know what you are putting in your body
- Mental health / suicide and what resources are available
- Sexual assault – protecting yourself, using exit strategies and the Buddy System
- The importance of Always Looking Out For Each Other
“When they get into trouble, even if they can’t help themselves, hopefully there will be someone nearby who can provide them that assistance,” said Angi.
A big part of that is the Indiana lifeline law, which protects people under 21 from prosecution for certain alcohol-related offenses if they call for help.
“There’s a certain mystique that calling 911 is only for a big deal,” said Angi, “Well, this is a big deal.”
The message is clear – you don’t have to know the details of how to take care of someone who is injured or overly intoxicated – you just have to call for help immediately before a life-ending event occurs.
Click here to learn more about Rachael’s First Week, click here.