Corey Hausman was just 15 days into his freshman year of college when he was in a skateboarding accident on campus that left him with a severe head injury.
Corey was speaking after the fall and a teacher's assistant called 911, but he later went into a coma.
"We got a call that our son was 2,000 miles away from home in a hospital," said Nanette Hausman, Corey's mother. "We didn’t know who was taking care of him. We didn’t know anything that had happened. Then, we got a call from a doctor suggesting that we let him go because there was no chance for a neurological recovery."
Corey Hausman died the day after his skateboarding accident and Hausman, her husband and the couple's two other sons were left reeling.
"It was such a shock," Hausman told TODAY Parents regarding the 2018 incident. "Typically what's covered in the news in terms of college student deaths are hazing news or stories of sensationalized incidents involving certain student behaviors, but my son's death was a simple accident. Corey fell on a pedestrian walkway on a Tuesday evening leaving dinner on his way to a friend's dorm."
Hausman says she went into "private investigator mode" in the months following Corey's death, trying to pinpoint where the communication breakdown occurred between her 18-year-old son's fall on campus and her receiving a call from the hospital hours later.
"He was an adult in the eyes of the medical community," said Hausman. "As parents, we really had no rights or permissions as far as who was taking care of him or what was being done. It was like being in the nosebleed section of a football game watching when we should have been on the field helping call the shots."
Today, Hausman heads up College911.net, an initiative that operates with two purposes: preparing parents and students to handle emergencies on campus and working to enact laws that require colleges and universities to do a better job reporting safety accidents and related student deaths.
The emergency checklist
Hausman learned there were many safeguards that could have been in place before she and her husband dropped Corey off at college.
Among them: reading reviews of a school's campus health center and paying the facility a visit, and knowing who to call on campus if there's an emergency and parents need to reach their child.
Hausman, who lists all of her tips in an emergency medical checklist on her website, says it's important to contact the school in advance and know both which hospital a student will be taken to in an emergency and what that hospital's trauma level is. If the default hospital is not a level one trauma facility, also make note of which facility a student would be transferred to if a higher level of care became necessary.
"It's common for kids to get into accidents toward the beginning of the year — they’re in a new environment, there are new academics and the pressures of making new friends," said Hausman. "Or they need to get to class and didn’t realize the building is nine blocks away."
"It's unfamiliar territory and it's a perfect storm for accidents, so know up front where your student would be taken in an emergency."
Hausman also recommends researching the health app on your smart phone, as settings can be tweaked in a way that if 911 is called from that phone, all of a student's emergency contacts are notified.
And, be sure your student has completed all medical information in the app, such as allergies, blood type and any other medical issues; with the correct settings enabled, hospital staff can access that information without a passcode in an emergency.
Hausman also says it's important to get a power of medical attorney form completed for your child if they're over 18 and to store that document as a file on their phone and your own.
"That way, if you know where the child is being taken — because you've done your homework in advance and asked the college — you can call in advance with that medical power of attorney and be involved in their medical care," she explained. "We didn’t know that. We didn’t realize once they’re 18, they're an adult in the eyes of the medical community."
Through College911.net, Hausman also works to support laws that help parents and students be more informed about the safety of a particular college campus.
In her own state, Connecticut, Hausman worked on getting a new law requiring colleges to report accidents and accidental deaths on their safety report cards.
Now, she's set her sights on making a wider impact.
"We are working to create this on a national level as well," she said. "Colleges already report math and science. They already report crime and fire incidents. We're just trying to add a couple more subjects to the report card, which are preventable accidents, injuries and deaths."
Hausman says she started her initiative in hopes of helping other families avoid a tragedy like her own.
"Have the conversation with your child and make them realize these accidents can happen," said Hausman. "My goal is not to scare people, it's to prepare them in a way that would have made a difference for my family."