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Senator Wants To Expand Scope Of Lifeline Law

A state senator wants to expand a law giving legal protection to those under 21 who call 911 when alcohol leads to a medical emergency.

Lifeline Law

Photo: William Murphy (Flickr)

Indiana’s Lifeline Law grants immunity to intoxicated minors who seek medical attention for a friend but the law doesn’t protect everyone involved.

The Indiana Lifeline law provides amnesty to young people who seek medical attention for a person who has consumed too much alcohol.

Now, Senator Jim Merritt wants the law changed to include all medical emergencies.

Merritt is touring campuses around the getting feedback on the possible change. He says he has anecdotal evidence that the lifeline law is working and believes broadening its language will help even more.

“What we’re hearing from people that would be affected by the law is that they would much rather have it that the law says if a person is in need of medical attention, 911 should be called and immunity offered to the caller and to those that are around that are willing to be helpful to be sure that the person in need of medical attention is taken care of,” he says.

Some argue the law opens the door for substance abuse, but Tammy Loew from Purdue’s Student Wellness Office supports the expansion idea and thinks it’s encouraging more young people to make a call.

“A law like this gets put into place after the fact,” she says. “We know that something has already happened and somebody is in a life-threatening situation, so we want people to feel comfortable saving their life.”

Merritt will introduce the proposed change during the next legislative session in January.

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