"Good Samaritan" Laws that Protect People who Call 911 For Overdose-Related Medical Emergencies Spread


Governing magazine reports:

Illinois, Colorado and Florida this year have passed legislation that gives legal immunity to people who call 911 to report a companion's drug overdose. The intent is to curb the number of deaths due to drug overdoses, which have soared nationally in recent years.

The legislation – widely referred to as the "911 Good Samaritan" law – is designed to eliminate legal concerns that may prevent people from seeking proper medical treatment. Under the laws, both the person calling 911 as well as a companion in need of medical treatment are granted immunity.

In 2007, New Mexico was the first state to pass a 911 Good Samaritan law. Since then New York, Washington, Connecticut have passed similar laws, in addition to the three states that took action this year…..

Supporters of the legislation say in order for it to be effective, people need to be aware that the immunity provisions exist. Yet none of the Good Samaritan Laws have a public education component. "One of the reasons these laws pass without a great deal of time and back and forth is that they generally do not have any appropriation or fund requirement attached to them," [Meghan] Ralston [of the Drug Policy Alliance] said, "Money would need to be appropriated for public education."

DPA is working on an education campaign to inform people in drug rehabilitation programs, recently released prison inmates, and others in high-risk demographics of the new laws. 

I blogged in October 2010 about then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's shameful veto of such a bill, and in July 2010 about the general usefulness of such laws.