STAFF EDITORIAL | Lifeline Law could save lives

There is a nightmare situation that no Butler University student wants to suffer through.

A friend drinks too much, and making one phone call  to the police could save his or her life. Although, it could also end in spending the night in a drunk tank.

The Indiana Senate recently unanimously passed a bill that, if signed, could become a medical amnesty law.

The law would grant legal immunity to students who call emergency services for alcohol poisoning if the calling student follows certain rules.

We at The Butler Collegian believe that this law could save lives and encourage students to be more careful in general.

The bill requires the caller to identify him or herself on the phone, they must have called about a medical emergency and must cooperate with police and EMTs.

Students who believe a peer is suffering from alcohol poisoning can call without fear of alcohol-related felony or misdemeanor charges if they follow the rules.

Backed by representatives of Indiana and Purdue Universities among others, Senate Bill 274 tries to give those afraid of legal backlash a “way out” when they call emergency services.

Cornell University published a study in 2006 that showed that, under “medical amnesty” laws like this, alcohol-related emergency calls dramatically incresaed but did not show a corresponding spike in alcohol consumption.

So, no more people are drinking, but more are calling.

This seems to indicate that the law can save lives.

The law also doesn’t keep responsibility from the students entirely.

They may receive citations and other repercussions but are free from criminal charges related to alcohol consumption, possession and public intoxication.

The ill student may still be charged for alcohol-related violations.

The legislation also indirectly encourages more responsible behavior another way, since the caller is required to identify himself or herself and be present to cooperate with responders.

This way, the ill person is not left  to mercies of nature or others.

Butler University has always done a good job of stressing alcohol safety. Red Cup Culture, the alcohol information presentations sponsored by Butler University Health Education, points out that the Butler University Police Department is more concerned with keeping students alive than arresting them.

Yet students may still have concerns about calling the police.

While underage drinking is nothing new, it is still a crime and it is sometimes hard to remember that calling was the right choice while spending the evening with police officers.

So, even if BUPD refers cases to student affairs, the law puts in writing what students hope for.

Medical amnesty acts like a safety net, giving attention to those who need it most.

The medical amnesty bill will reach the Indiana House of Representatives in the coming. weeks, and we hope they pass it.


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