Would you pass an RSA?

Words by Jane Ryan

Would you pass an RSA? image 1

RSA stands for Responsible Service of Alcohol and is a certificate required for practising bartenders throughout Australia.

After an intensive one day course and a hefty fee participants have to take an exam. The ending result is a piece of paper which means you can serve alcohol behind the bar, in a restaurant or at events.

Information on the course includes the effects of alcohol, how to identify drunks and cut them off without a fight ensuing as well as the facts on booze and minors. Down Under there are serious consequences for serving intoxicated or underage persons as well as customers outside the times set down on the licence.

So how well would you fare in the exam?

What's a standard drink?
- 25ml or 30ml sprit shot?
- 1 pint (568ml) or 285ml of full strength beer?
- 200ml glass of wine or 100ml glass of wine?
- 50ml or 60ml of port?
Answer: A standard drink is typically defined as a drink that contains approximately 10 grams of pure alcohol. This amount is normally contained in:
- 30ml of spirits
- 60ml of port
- 100ml of white or red wine
- 285ml of full strength beer.

Where does the alcohol go?
- How is alcohol absorbed into the body?
- Where is it absorbed from?
Answer: Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream as a person drinks. It is absorbed through the stomach walls and the intestines. The bloodstream carries the alcohol to the brain.

Do fizzy drinks go straight to your head?
Answer: Yes, it turns out. Alcohol in carbonated drinks, such as sparkling wines and mixed drinks, usually enters the bloodstream more quickly. The effects of the alcohol is more quickly felt.

What factors affect someone's drunkenness?
Answer: Intoxication starts the second the first drink is consumed and commences its passage around the body. The body quickly absorbs alcohol, however, the exact time that the body will take to absorb alcohol will vary from one person to another. The RSA suggests these as reasons why:

Gender: Females tend to have a slightly higher BAC than men after drinking the same amount because they have less body fluid to dilute the alcohol.

Size: Smaller people are affected more than larger people for the same reason.

Fitness level: It may take longer for a fit person with more muscle tissue and less fat to be affected by alcohol, as lean muscle tissue contains around 65% more water than body fat.

Health: - Being tired, ill or stressed may affect a person's reaction to alcohol. The central nervous system is under stress when a person is tired or ill. Alcohol is a depressant and places more stress on the body's systems, which may result in the person being more quickly affected by alcohol.

Age: - As a person ages their total body water tends to decrease, so that a given amount of alcohol will produce a higher BAC.

Psychological: - An unhappy or depressed state of mind may be increased when a person drinks alcohol. Two drinks when a person is depressed or unhappy may have the same effect as four drinks would normally have.

Rate of drinking: - If a person drinks alcohol quickly it will have a greater effect because they are drinking at a faster rate than their body can remove it.

Drinking on an empty stomach: - If there is food in the stomach, alcohol will mix with the food before passing to the small intestine. This slows down the alcohol being absorbed into the blood. However, the process is only slowed down - not stopped.

Medication: - Many medications will interact with alcohol. This increases the potential for loss of control of behaviour and can be dangerous. Therefore, people should avoid drinking alcohol when taking medication.

Illicit drugs: - Mixing illicit drugs such as cannabis, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine or ecstasy, with alcohol can have dangerous or lethal consequences. People should avoid mixing alcohol and drugs.

What sobers you up? :
Answer: : Everyone has their hangover cures but what does the RSA recommend?
-cold showers
-black coffee

None of these things.

"It is important to realise that sobering up takes time. Letting people become intoxicated and giving them an hour to sober up is not an effective strategy." The course says.

How to identify drunkenness?
Answer: The RSA course says to look out for people who are loud and boisterous, those with slurring speech, making mistakes while talking, argumentative, annoying other patrons and staff, exhibiting any inappropriate sexual behaviour or being aggressive or using offensive language.

How do you prevent customers getting drunk?
- Promote low alcohol drinks
- Promote non-alcoholic drinks
- Offer water
- Have food available

How do you tell someone you've stopped serving them?
- Never start a sentence with 'you' which makes it seem their fault
- Stand up tall but don't lean in which could be considered aggressive
- Don't be abrupt and say 'I can't serve you. You're too drunk.'
- Say 'I'll get in trouble with the manager if I serve you' which deflects the blame

Would you have been able to answer these questions?

RSA has some sensible points but overall it's there to protect the staff under the law. One of it's best attributes is that a manager must back a bartender on the night. If a bartender calls it and says 'I don't want to serve this person they are too drunk' the manager has to respect that decision. They might tell their bartender I don't think you made the right call but under the RSA law they must support their staff. In Australia the staff member caught serving an intoxicated person is liable for a financial fine just as the establishment is. So it's understandable why having the RSA is important. If other countries should adopt it is a debate for another day.

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