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PSU students advocate for 'Lifeline 911' - KOAM TV 7

PSU students advocate for 'Lifeline 911'

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PITTSBURG, KANSAS -

On Wednesday, students involved in PSU student government traveled to Topeka to advocate for an academic policy, "Lifeline 911" to become a law.

The policy would allow underage drinkers to avoid charges if they call for medical help, so long as they are compliant. The situation is one that students may find themselves in at a house party or otherwise.

"They're fearful of contacting emergency personnel, because they don't want to get an MIP or an MIC which doesn't seem like that big of deal considering that their friend is in need of medical attention, but its a deterrent," senior Michael Haynes said.

Lifeline 911 is a law in a number of other states. Student body presidents in Kansas have been working on the policy for Kansas for awhile. It passed the Senate last year.

"I like the peace of mind in knowing that if I have a friend that's a minor, or, I could have been in the position my freshman year,  you go to a house party, you see somebody struggling, there's always that pressure of "am I going to get in trouble?" And to alleviate that, could possibly save a life. If it saves one life, it's worth it," student body president Kyle Hostetler said.

The policy complies well with existing HIPAA laws in the medical world.

"So at 18 you're considered an adult. So if we were to call somebody, that's a violation because we are giving information to somebody that you haven't given us permission to share. Even your parents," Via Christi's director of emergency services Naomi Powers said.

Powers recalled an instance where a nurse was tempted to call the family of an underage minor, hospitalized for alcohol poisoning. Lifeline 911 would relieve the pressure of notifying authorities for those involved.

"This doesn't happen very often, but when it does happen, you do like these processes in place to help protect the students. It's like, in public buildings when you have emergency defibrillators, you know you look at them, you don't want to ever use them, but when you do need them, you want them to be there," Haynes said.

The vote Friday was 92-27. Supporters said the measure is intended to avoid preventable tragedies. Opponents argue it encourages underage drinking.

"I think it's just the opposite, I think it encourages people to be more responsible," PSU Student Prevention and Wellness coordinator JT Knoll said.

According to Lifeline 911's website, 80,000 U.S. deaths annually are due to binge-drinking. Putting the policy in to play would hope to decrease that number.

"A misdemeanor is not worth the loss of a life," student Marcus Clem said.
 

The Senate will be addressing some technical language of the bill before it heads to Governor Brownback's desk to be signed into law.

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