Medical Amnesty protects victims of overdose from law

In July, New York State passed the Good Samaritan Law, also known as Medical Amnesty, which will protect anyone who calls 911 to report emergencies concerning underage drinking and drug overdoses. The law went into effect on Sept. 18. Sen. John DeFrancisco (R) and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D) sponsored the bill, which was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on July 20.

New Mexico, Washington and New Jersey have also adopted the law and Hawaii and Michigan are at various stages of passage.

Many universities and colleges across the country have medical amnesty policies that allow students to contact local authorities when they have a medical situation without facing penalties from the school's respective conduct review.

Cornell University's Medical Amnesty Protocol program is one of the most well known. According to a study done by students at Cornell, the number of calls almost doubled the first year.

The M.A.P. program at Cornell also requires students to attend a brief psycho-educational intervention after seeking medical amnesty to further prevent these emergencies from occurring.

"I completely support this law and the idea of medical amnesty to protect individuals who are trying to assist someone in grave danger due to alcohol or drug overuse," said Dr. Steven Radi, medical director of Lauderdale Health Center. "This message is surely consistent with our efforts to have students ‘Stand Up' and watch out for one another."

Freshman Joey O'Connor said that he believes the Good Samaritan law is "a saving grace" and should even be "implemented at the national level."

"Although one should consider [their] friend's safety first, the Good Samaritan Law only encourages a ‘report first, think later' mindset," O'Connor said. "I wouldn't think twice."

"The kind of amnesty suggested by this law will create the incentive necessary to enable youth – underage college students especially – [to] make uninhibited life-saving decisions," said junior Sally Profeta. "In emergencies, saving human life should be the greatest concern, and the police should never be considered an obstacle to this."

Junior Sarah DeMarco said that although the Good Samaritan Law "doesn't encourage [a] student's moral fiber," she thinks that it is a "good reward system" and "encourages physical health and safety."