Lara Hunter, national director of Red Watch Band, led the celebration of a record number of Stony Brook University students trained in one semester. ARACELY JIMENEZ/THE STATESMAN

Lara Hunter, national director of Red Watch Band, led the celebration of a record number of 1,284 Stony Brook University students trained in one semester. ARACELY JIMENEZ/THE STATESMAN

This fall, Red Watch Band trained a record-breaking number of 1,284 students.

The group announced the milestone during an awards ceremony in the Center for Global Studies and Human Development on Dec. 8 to salute the students and clubs that have participated in the training program, which teaches students how to prevent deaths from toxic drinking.

“The event was to celebrate and really honor the students that stepped up to complete the Red Watch Band program and encouraged their friends to complete the Red Watch Band program and really just to thank them for being part of this community,” Lara Hunter, national director of Red Watch Band, said. “We try to do this every semester, so at the end of the fall and the end of the spring semester, for the students we are training.”

The event hosted more than 50 students and staff, along with representatives from the University Police Department.

Last semester, 825 students completed the training program, and Langmuir College had the largest number of Red Watch Band trainings for the university.

“The mission of the Red Watch Band is to provide campus community members with the knowledge, awareness, and skills to prevent student toxic drinking deaths and to promote a student culture of kindness, responsibility, compassion, and respect,” according to the Red Watch Band website. “Which is what has been achieved through the semesters.”

At the ceremony, Ashley Olafsson received the Red Watch Band Care Team MVP Award, Christian Rodriguez received the Dedicated Service Award and Sonia Garrido took home the Unsung Hero Award for their work with Red Watch Band this semester.

“I really do love Red Watch Band,” Anastasios Karayanidis, a junior economics major, said. “It makes me feel like I can make a difference and I am doing something for my community especially since so many college students around the country die from alcohol poisoning every day.”

Red Watch Band was created as a way for people to learn about alcohol abuse. In 2008, a Northeastern University freshman, whose mother was a doctor at Stony Brook University Hospital, died from alcohol poisoning. His death motivated then-president Shirley Strum Kenny to create a program in 2009 to prevent similar deaths, according to the Red Watch Band website.

Since the program’s inception, more than 5,000 students have been trained by Red Watch Band. Other colleges, including UMass Dartmouth, also train students through the program.

More than 1,825 college students die from alcohol poisoning every year, according to the Red Watch Band website. Red Watch Band teaches bystanders how to help in situations of toxic drinking and overdose. Students can participate in a two-hour course that teaches them how to recognize alcohol-related emergencies and react accordingly.

“The idea of the Red Watch Band is a band of students watching out for each other and our color is red,” Hunter said. “That’s basically how that basically all came together”

Students can register for a training session on the Red Watch Band website.