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Indiana lawmaker’s proposal: No risk to report overdose via 911

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A sate lawmaker is trying to give Hoosiers immunity from prosecution if they call 911 for help while someone is overdosing on drugs.

Imagine your in a room with someone. You have drugs right next to you. Suddenly, the person starts to overdose. You’re paralyzed in fear.

Republican State Sen. Jim Merritt from Indianapolis said, “Many people are not calling 911 or texting 911 when there’s a drug overdose because they feel like they’re going to get arrested or the person in need of medical attention is going to get arrested.” 

“What we’re trying to do is convince those that are in the tragic circumstance of a possible overdose death, is it’s better to call 911, it’s better to text 911 than see somebody die.”

“Right now, if you haven’t administered Narcan, and it is a drug overdose situation, you can be arrested, We’re trying to eliminate that situation,” Merritt said. “Where there is immunity for anyone who texts or calls 911.” 

Narcan is a device that delivers naloxone, an opioid-overdose antidote often carried by first responders and caretakers of people with heroin addiction. 

Merritt recently filed Senate Bill 90. 

“Senate Bill 90 will allow a shield of liability, away from the individual,” the legislator said. “There will be no liability if you call or text 911 in the event of an overdose.” 

Merritt knows not everyone will be on board. 

“There’s a thought that we’re enabling drug use. How are we going to be able to teach people lessons and uphold the law?” he said. “My reaction to that is we just need to save lives and treat those that are suffering from addiction.” 

“I’d much rather save a life and figure out the legal parts after that than see someone fail and die.” 

Merritt said he’s confident he’ll get enough bipartisan support in the Statehouse.