The Lifeline That Could Save Your Teenager’s Life
Writer / Lynda Hedberg Thies
Time is a critical element in all our lives, and there are just some moments in our lives that are more important than we realize. For Norm and Dawn Finbloom, that day was August 3, 2012, their wedding anniversary and the day they received a phone call that changed everything. For their son and his teenage friends, it was a decision on that same night to celebrate their upcoming move to college with alcohol. The Finblooms will never forget this day because it ended tragically, but they chose to turn their pain into purpose.
The Finblooms son, 18-year-old Brett, had returned from orientation at Oklahoma State where he was to attend college in less than two weeks. The Finblooms went out to dinner to enjoy their anniversary. All seemed well. Brett left about 9:15 p.m. to go hang out with friends and say their goodbyes since they were all leaving for college soon. At 12:45 a.m., they received a phone call no parent wants from a police officer, informing them their son had been drinking, that his heart had stopped, that they were working on him, and they needed to get to the hospital as quickly as possible.
There was a completely different moment in time about to change Brett’s friends, who were also drinking. They did not know what to do when Brett passed out. They were scared to get into trouble so they let time pass. They cleaned up the house and discussed what they should do when they realized Brett had no pulse. Only two of his friends stayed with him until the medics arrived, but they did not cooperate. Brett was revived at the hospital but would be pronounced brain dead just two days later.
Timing is indeed everything.
What the Finblooms and Brett’s friends did not realize was that The 911 Indiana Lifeline Law had passed just 30 days prior. If Brett’s friends had been aware of it, they would have known that calling 911 to help their friend, staying with him until the medics and police arrived and staying to cooperate may just have kept him alive. But they did not know anything about the law.
The timing of Brett Finblooms’s death just 30 days after the 911 Lifeline Law was passed made them the face of the law and that they did not want their son’s death to be in vain. So, they joined forces with Youth as Resources and Senator Jim Merritt, the author of the Lifeline Law to raise awareness and to make sure that no other teen has to die and no parent has to know the pain of losing their child so young.
The campaign “Make Good Decisions” was created to educate parents on the dangers of underage binge drinking, create awareness of what The 911 Indiana Lifeline Law, sponsored by Indiana Senator Jim Merritt, is all about. And most importantly, how to talk with your teen so they will listen. They have spent the past five years speaking to grade schools, junior high schools, high school and colleges. With binge drinking on the rise they are deeply committed to making a difference, but still there is much work to do to make sure your teens are safe.
The Finblooms do not condone underage drinking but recognize the importance of communicating with teens because the problem is not going to go away. And the Finblooms feel confident that if they had known about the information, it would be their son making these presentations. In honor of their son, who was supposed to start his freshman year at Oklahoma State, the Finblooms helped the state of Oklahoma get the same Lifeline Law passed.
If you are a parent of a high school or college student, this is a community issue as well as a family issue. The best chance our teens have is when everyone is involved and aware. Our community needs everyone to get involved and to be aware of this law. It starts with parents talking to their teens and sharing the information, because if your teens’ friends are aware, it can literally be the difference between life and death. But getting teens to listen is not always easy.
That is why the Cathedral Mothers’ Club recently invited Dawn Finbloom to share her journey “The Imperfect Storm: A Mother’s Story” on September 21 at the Hawthorns Country Club. The Finblooms message, “Learn How to Save Your Teenager’s Life” educates parents on how to talk to your teens and make good choices, so that you have more time with your teen.