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There’s always a victim

FAIRCHILD AFB, Wash. -- After a long work week, a twenty-something year old decides to go out to a local club with some friends to have a little fun and put the week behind her.

After spending an hour or two getting ready, the girls hop in their designated driver’s car and head to their favorite spot.

At the club, they have a great time dancing and meeting new people. After a while, they decide to sit down for a couple drinks.

They order from their young, female waitress and get back to talking about the other clubs they wanted to visit that night.

At this point, they didn’t know they wouldn’t make it that far.

Only minutes after taking her first sip, one of the girls starts to complain about nausea.

Thinking it would pass, she tells her friends that she is going to step outside and get some fresh air and that she would catch up with them in a minute.

A seemingly nice man outside senses that she’s not feeling well and asks if there’s anything he can do to help – get her some water, go find her friends, etc. In her quickly worsening state, she can’t help but accept his offer.

And that’s the last thing she remembers from the night...

This girl was a victim of a date rape drug.

Unfortunately, this type of scene is becoming too common, said Peter Le Grand, the drug demand reduction program manager with the 92nd Medical Operations Squadron.

And it’s happening locally – to Fairchild Airmen.

“I think part of the problem is that most military members’ idea of a threat is something like you’d see over in Iraq right now – guns, bombs and such,” Mr. Le Grand said. “When they’re stateside, they tend to let their hair down and relax a little more, maybe too much.”

In this case, the girl took most of the obvious precautions, such as assigning a designated driver, going out in a group and not leaving their drinks, but sometimes that’s not enough.

Mr. Le Grand stresses a term that most military members have heard at least once during their careers: situational awareness, or simply knowing what’s going on around you.

This involves not being too trusting and not being lulled into a sense of false security.

“As laid back as Spokane is, there are a lot of sexual predators that are released here,” he said. “You never know who you’re dealing with.”

Mr. Le Grand suggests staying with a group, or at least one person you know, at all times.

“You also want to order straight from the bar and watch them pour your drinks,” he said.

As much as people want to trust the people who work at their favorite places, it’s not always a smart thing to do.

“Most waitresses work for minimum wage and make all their money off tips,” said Mr. Le Grand. “Some guy could have offered her $20 to slip something into your drink.”

Whether or not she would accept the offer is up to her, and likely the person who ordered the drink wouldn’t even know, until it was too late.

“It’s not like you can see or smell the drug in your drink,” he said. “You’re not going to take a sip and think, this tastes funny.”

The drugs’ colorless, odorless and tasteless properties are some of the main reasons why they are so dangerous. Nearly all people who have been affected never saw it coming.

“It sounds scary, but something as small as a grain of sugar can kill you,” he said.

And it starts working almost immediately.

“Within a half of a minute, most people will black out and then wake up four to five hours later,” he said.

Anyone who thinks they may have been drugged should not be embarrassed or scared of getting in trouble. If it was a true case of being drugged unsuspectedly, the chances of the victim seeing any repercussions are very slim, Mr. Le Grand said.

He urges people to contact the Office of Special Investigations as soon as possible if they have been victimized.

From there, OSI can work with Spokane authorities to track down offenders and keep it from happening to other unsuspecting victims.