Letter: Medical amnesty legislation will help teens make good decisionsPublished 10:27am Tuesday, March 5, 2013
I am writing to you regarding the medical amnesty bills that were recently introduced in both the Minnesota House and Senate. The bills would provide limited immunity from prosecution for underage consumption and possession to minors that seek to receive emergency medical assistance.
It is necessary to recognize that, despite our best efforts, there will always be young people who consume alcohol. Unfortunately, we are not doing enough to keep young people safe. The current issue is that when there is a large amount of alcohol being consumed, especially by college students, emergencies arise. Sadly, it is the fear of prosecution that is preventing minors from seeking medical help. According to Boynton Health Service of the University of Minnesota, 14 percent of Minnesota college students reported being unlikely to call 911 if someone is unable to be woken due to alcohol or drug use.
At Cornell University, two years after a medical amnesty policy was implemented, alcohol-related EMS calls increased by 22 percent and student-cited reasons for not calling 911 decreased: “I didn’t want to get the person in trouble” -61 percent, “I didn’t want to get myself in trouble” -23 percent, “I wasn’t sure the person was sick enough” -23 percent.
We are obligated to promote responsibility and safety. Any injuries or deaths as a result of hesitance to seek help are simply unacceptable. Medical amnesty legislation will incentivize young people to make the right decisions in bad situations.
Domingo Ramirez, Austin