Officials discuss Lifeline Law



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Senator Jim Merritt speaks about the Lifeline Law on Tuesday at Alumni Hall. The Lifeline Law provides immunity for the crimes involving alcohol while seeking medical assistance for a person suffering from an alcohol-related emergency. Kasey Gill Buy Photos



As the older brother of Rachael Fiege, the IU freshman who passed away in August, Jeremy Fiege was one of several speakers at a Tuesday night event focused on the Lifeline Law and the dangers of alcohol consumption. 

“This is about removing legal barriers,” Jeremy Fiege said. “We have to also address our own ignorance.” 

Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, and Attorney General Greg Zoellerspoke at “Make the Call Day,” an interactive lecture presented by Union Board and the IU Student Association. Carmel, Ind. residents Dawn and Norm Finbloom, whose son Brett Finbloom died of alcohol poisoning in 2012, also spoke. 

The Lifeline Law, passed in 2012, provides immunity to persons who reveal themselves to law enforcement while seeking medical assistance for an individual in an alcohol-related health emergency.

Merritt, who authored the state bill, introduced the law and why it is so important to him that students know about it.

“We really want to make sure people do the right thing and that they make the call,” Merritt said. “This is something I will probably do for the rest of my career.”

Merritt addressed issues concerning texting and driving as well as the use of synthetic drugs.

Zoeller discussed student concerns about getting prosecuted for calling 911 while under the influence.

“The likelihood of being prosecuted for making the call is very slim.”  Zoeller said.
In addition to Indiana, there are 17 states that have passed the Lifeline Law. Merritt said he would like to see all 50 states pass the law.

The Hoosier Proactive Alcohol Care Treatment policy, enacted by IU in spring 2012, was the stepping-stone for the Lifeline Law. Since 2004 more than two dozen Hoosier students have lost their lives due to alcohol poisoning, according to the Lifeline Law website.

“Here’s what I want you to think about,” Zoeller said. “You are the ones who have to take the leadership in getting the word out. It’s your responsibility to get the word out on your campus and in your community.” 

Norm Finbloom asked students to spread Brett’s message of making the call.
“The reality of the fact is that Brett may still be alive today had someone made the call to 911,” Norm Finbloom said.

Dawn Finbloom, Brett Finbloom’s mother, commended IU’s safe ride program, but said it is not enough. Every 44 hours a college student dies from drinking too much too fast, Donna Finbloom said. She urged students to understand that the Lifeline Law gives immunity to the caller and anyone involved in making the call.

She said she misses her son every day, but she has hope for our generation.
“Today, let’s make it our mantra to make good decisions,” she said. “It only takes one person. Make the call.”

Follow reporter Torie Schumacher on Twitter
@shoe_torie.

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Jeremy Fiege, brother of Rachael Fiege, speaks about the Lifeline Law on Tuesday at Alumni Hall. The Lifeline Law was passed on May 4, 2012. Kasey Gill Buy Photos

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