Calling or texting 911 for help could save someone's life so state and Indiana University officials are working to make more students aware of the Indiana Lifeline law and the ability to text to 911 if they or their friends need help fast.
Indiana state Sen. Jim Merritt, who authored the Lifeline law, IU Superintendent of Public Safety Benjamin Hunter, who oversees IUPD divisions on all IU campuses, IU Bloomington Dean of Student Lori Reesor and others talked recently about their support for the law and the need for more students to be aware of it.
"We endorse and support the Lifeline law and text to 911," Hunter said. "Nobody should be afraid to call IUPD, anywhere in the state."
Indiana's Lifeline law provides legal amnesty from prosecution for underage drinking, and many related drinking offenses, for a person who calls or texts 911, or for persons assisting and reporting a medical emergency, sexual assault or other crime. Officials say the law has saved two lives this semester in Indiana and 41 total.
Merritt said a college-age person dies from alcohol poisoning every 44 hours, adding urgency to the need to make it easy for young people to contact emergency services quickly.
Reesor said the Culture of Care initiative is a key component to ensuring a safe campus community at IU Bloomington because it promotes students helping students and helps them identify and resolve potential problems. IUPUI has a similar program called JagNation.
"Still, we recognize that IU, like so many of our peer institutions around the nation, is not immune to underage drinking and the dangers of binge drinking," Reesor said. "This is why we continue to enhance our efforts to reduce the harm created by the high-risk alcohol use on campus. These efforts span everything from alcohol prevention, intervention and education."
She said IU is dedicated to educating students about the Lifeline law through bystander intervention workshops, new student orientation, and required first-year programming.
Friday's event was part of a campaign launched in August that brings together Merritt, the Indiana Youth Services Association's Make Good Decisions program, the Indiana Statewide 911 Board's Text-to-911 services, and Treasure Kelly Mitchell, who chairs the Statewide 911 Board.