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Lifeline Law Backers Push For Increased Use Of Text To 911

Indiana Public Broadcasting

Educating young people about Indiana’s Lifeline Law has a new focus this year – text to 911.

The Lifeline Law provides immunity from underage drinking charges to minors who seek help for themselves or others. And it applies not just to those who call 911, but those who text it as well.

State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell – who chairs the Statewide 911 Board – says texting allows dispatchers to more easily follow up on 911 hang-ups, citing a recent example:

“The caller who hung up ended up being a student who thought they had alcohol poisoning and they were worried about getting in trouble if they called for help,” Mitchell says.

Text to 911 services have been offered in some areas since 2014 and reached all counties last month. Still, far less than one percent of 911 communications are via text – which Mitchell says should go up as awareness campaigns roll out.

“Especially to inform out-of-state students of the text to 911 capabilities because while we have this in Indiana, as you heard most other states don’t,” she says.

Mitchell says calling 911 is still preferred but if texting, students should include their location first, then as much detail about the incident as possible.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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