Lifeline Law expansion passes Indiana House
STATEHOUSE – Today, legislation expanding Indiana’s Lifeline Law passed out of the House unanimously. Senate Bill (SB) 227, cosponsored by State Representative P. Eric Turner (R-Cicero), will provide legal protection for anyone less than 21 years old who calls 911 to report an alcohol-related medical emergency – including sexual assault and drug overdose.
“We want students and young adults to know that they can call the authorities during situations where someone’s life might be endangered and not be penalized for it. The Lifeline Law was a great initial step that we originally took two years ago, and now, we want to expand those life-saving protections,” said Rep. Turner. “While I don’t condone illicit activities, like underage drinking, I can’t ignore that these situations occur and when we have an opportunity to save a life – we should act.”
In 2012, the General Assembly passed Senate Enrolled Act 274 which became known as the Lifeline Law. Previously, the law provided immunity against crimes, like minor consumption, for anyone less than 21 years old who called 911 to report an alcohol-related medical emergency such as alcohol poisoning. However, in order to receive legal-protection under the law, the reporting party must cooperate with police, medical responders and investigators, offer their full name, remain on the scene and provide any additional information deemed useful by law enforcement personnel.
This session, SB 227 aims to expand the Lifeline Law to include more than just alcohol-related health emergencies. If enacted, SB 227 would provide legal protection for individuals who report any medical emergency, like a sexual assault or drug overdose, if alcohol is also involved.
A main component of SB 227 would require the Indiana Emergency Medical Services Commission to establish standards that would allow only qualified first responders, police officers, firefighters and other emergency medical professionals to administer a drug to counteract the effects of overdose like Naloxone. The commission would be responsible for the distribution, use, training and administration of the overdose prevention drug.
Another portion of SB 227 would require either the State Department of Health or the Office of Women’s Health to study the following items: determine the number of victims of sexual or domestic violence in the state, establish reasons why these crimes go underreported, develop ways to improve reporting and come up with effective methods to connect victims with the help they need.
“Sexual assaults have dramatically increased in Indiana. It is imperative that we address this situation and not ignore this horrid violence that now nearly one out of every six Hoosier women go through. I will continue to work in a bipartisan fashion in addressing this serious issue that too many Hoosiers have fallen victim to,” said Rep. Turner.
If enacted, the bill would go into effect on July 1, 2014.