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Making the call

By Jeff Terrill

Fort Wayne Reader

2017-05-04


“Good Samaritan” laws for 911 drug overdose calls exist in almost half of the states. Indiana is not yet one of those states. Such laws can grant legal immunity from possession of drug and paraphernalia charges to people who call 911 to report a drug overdose. Over 50,000 people in the U.S. die from drug overdoses each year. That number far surpasses the number of people who are killed annually in automobile accidents. These laws save lives by eliminating the fear of prosecution for those who call for help.

Meet Jill. She’s in her early twenties and just started dating Timmy (Jill and Timmy are not real people). Jill and Timmy are camping with some friends on some farmland outside of town. Everyone’s having fun.

Timmy is missing for a bit so Jill looks for him in the tents. She later finds him in the backseat of his car passed out with a needle next to him. Timmy’s skin is really pale and his lips are blue. Jill can’t tell if he’s breathing. She screams for help.

Cellular reception is poor but Jill tries calling 911. Jill hears the others talking about what they should do. Jill doesn’t understand. There’s only one thing to do in her mind and that’s to save Timmy’s life. Some of Timmy’s friends tell her not to call 911. They are afraid they will all get arrested.

Jill’s driver’s license is suspended but she wastes no time jumping into the driver’s seat and heading for the emergency room. She keeps trying 911. Finally, she gets an answer. Dispatch instructs her to stop driving and to wait for the ambulance. Jill does so and stays on the phone.

Jill ignores a phone call from one of Timmy’s friends. Then she gets a text from that caller telling her not to mention anything about being at the campsite. Jill doesn’t respond.

After several minutes, an ambulance arrives. A medic injects Timmy with naloxene, which is drug that, if administered promptly, can counteract the deadly effects of a heroin or opiate prescription drug overdose. Medics remove Timmy from the car, place him in the ambulance and rush off to the hospital.

Police officers start questioning Jill. She explains that she doesn’t use drugs. Officers start asking her about her suspended license and the needle on the backseat. Officers find a small amount of marijuana and a pipe in the center console of the front seat. They also find a white powdery substance believed to be heroin in a backpack.

The officers arrest Jill for the drugs and place her in a squad car. Jill knows she did the right thing by calling 911. She has no regrets. Timmy survives and is released from the hospital the next day. Jill and Tim stop dating. A few weeks later, Tim uses heroin for the last time. He dies on a friend’s couch.

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Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients accused of crimes throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at jterrill@fortwaynedefense.com. Learn more about his firm at www.fortwaynedefense.com. This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have. Thank you


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