Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

March 4, 2014

Lifeline Law expansion passes Indiana House

The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — Legislation expanding Indiana’s Lifeline Law passed out of the House unanimously Feb 26, according to an Indiana General Assembly press release.

Senate Bill 227, sponsored by State Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville) and co-sponsored by State Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg), 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.

“The Lifeline Law was a great first step to saving lives and encouraging individuals to report potentially life-threatening situations,” said McMillin. “While I don’t condone underage drinking or any illegal activity, unfortunately, these situations do occur, so we don’t want any barriers in place to discourage individuals from calling 911 when it might save a life.”

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 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 involved.

A main component of the bill 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.

“As a former professional firefighter, I am co-sponsoring this legislation not only for the necessary updates that it makes to the Lifeline Law but also because it will allow officials, such as first responders, police officers and firefighters, to administer an overdose prevention drug,” Frye revealed. “When you’re trained as a firefighter or a police officer, you are taught to put the public’s safety first and protect the most vulnerable. When you arrive on the scene and someone has clearly overdosed but you are unable to help them, that goes against every instinct that you have. This change to our current law will allow our public safety officers more freedom to complete their jobs to the best of the abilities.”

Another portion of SB 227 would require either the State Department of Health or the Office of Women’s Health to 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.

If enacted, the bill will go into effect July 1.