Read the PDF sent to me by the Harm Reduction Coalition. Basically,
if you call 911 because some one has over dose. They will no longer
be subject to arrest.
than doubled between 2000 and 2007.
1 In 2007 (the latest year data is available),
8 Additionally, drug overdose is the number two injury-related killer among young
adults ages 15-34.
9 The tragedy is that many of these deaths could have been prevented.
The chance of surviving an overdose, like that of surviving a heart attack, depends greatly
on how fast one receives medical assistance. Witnesses to heart attacks rarely think twice
about calling 911, but witnesses to an overdose often hesitate to call for help or, in many
cases, simply don’t make the call. The most common reason people cite for not calling 911 is
they need professional medical assistance for a friend or family member. The best way to
encourage overdose witnesses to seek medical help is to exempt them from criminal prosecution,
an approach often referred to as 911 Good Samaritan immunity laws.
Multiple studies show that most deaths actually occur one to three hours after the victim has
initially ingested or injected drugs. 11 The time that elapses before an overdose becomes a
fatality presents a vital opportunity to intervene and seek medical help.
who witness a drug overdose call for emergency medical services, with most of those doing so
only after other attempts to revive the overdose victim (e.g., inflicting pain or applying ice) have
proved unsuccessful.” 12 Furthermore, severe penalties for possession and use of illicit drugs,
including state laws that impose criminal
charges on individuals who provide drugs to someone who subsequently dies of an overdose,
only intensify the fear that prevents many witnesses from seeking emergency medical help.
Laws encouraging overdose witnesses and victims to seek medical attention may also be
accompanied by training for law enforcement, EMS and other emergency and public safety
personnel. Such legislation does not protect people from arrest for other offenses, such as
selling or trafficking drugs.
drug possession, possession of paraphernalia, and/or being under the influence.
The policy prioritizes saving lives over arrests for
In 2007, New Mexico was the first state in the nation to pass 911 Good Samaritan legislation.
In 2010, Washington State enacted the second such law, passing 911 Good Samaritan by
protection from not just prosecution, but also from arrest. Most recently,
in 2012, Illinois and Florida became the fifth and sixth states to enact a 911 Good Samaritan law.
Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska and Rhode Island.
In 2010, legislation was passed by the legislature in California. Unfortunately, the bill was
The US Conference of Mayors:
911 Good Samaritan policies that could save thousands of lives by encouraging medical
On College Campuses:
1 CDC WONDER Compressed Mortality File, ICD-10 Groups:
2 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting
System (WISQARS), “20 Leading Causes of Death, United States, 2006, All Races, Both Sexes”
4 Paulozzi, LJ, Budnitz, DS, Xi, Y. Increasing deaths from opioid analgesics in the United States.
Pharmaco epidemiol Drug Safety 2006; 15: 618-627.
6 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
National Center for Health Statistics, WONDER – Compressed Mortality – Underlying Cause of Death,
ICD-10 codes X40-44
7 States with more overdose deaths than car crash deaths in 2006 are: Massachusetts,
New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania,
Source: Stobbe M, “CDC: Drug deaths outpacen crashes in more states,”
The Associated Press, September 30, 2009
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), “QuickStats: Motor-Vehicle Traffic
9 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centersfor Disease Control and
Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury
Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), “20 Leading Causes of
10 Strang, J. Kelleher, M. Best, D. Mayet, S. Manning, V. “Preventing opiate overdose
deaths with emergency naloxone: medico-legal consideration of new potential
11 Davidson, Peter J. et al. “Witnessing heroin-related overdoses: the experiences of
young injectors in San Francisco,” Addiction 97 (December 2002): 1511.
12 Tracy, Melissa, et. al. “Circumstances of witnessed drug overdose in New York City:
implications for intervention,” Drug and Alcohol Dependence 79 (2005): 181-182.