Students getting life-saving info about Lifeline law

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It appears many of Indiana's smartest teenagers are ignorant of a law that could save the lives of underage drinkers.

A new media campaign targets college students, assuring them they won't get in trouble for helping someone who needs it.

Indiana's "Lifeline" law breezed through the Statehouse with no opposition. Two years later, too few teenagers know about a law with the power to save their friends' lives.

Butler's campus is crammed full of smart teenagers. There are freshmen and upper classmen who have been on campus for years. Despite the university's repeated and numerous efforts, only two of five students we asked knew anything about it.

"Never heard of it," said Sage Kosiorek.

A residence hall assistant knew all about Lifeline law, but his new roommate didn't.

"I don't know anything," admitted junior Katie Morford.

But her friend Claire Meyerhuff got it right.

"If someone needs to be taken to the hospital, you can't get in trouble if you call," she said.

The lack of life or death information on college campuses across the state worries Senator Jim Merritt.

"There will be a 17- or 18-year-old silly freshman who binge drinks," he warned reporters and officials gathered for a news conference.

Merritt, a Republican from Indianapolis, wrote the law. Now, he's helping launch a new social media campaign. Two million messages will be sent to students' phones and computers on 13 campuses. They assure them that if an underage drinker is in trouble, no one will be arrested for calling 911.

"We can't lose any more young lives," said Dawn Finbloom, her voice full of emotion.

Finbloom's son Brett died of alcohol poisoning at a party where teenage friends were too afraid to call police. The family's story is featured in one of the messages going out to students. Dawn and her husband Norm speak to 30 groups of teenagers a year.

"Kids don't watch much television anymore," she explained. "Most of what they get is from social media."

The couple says the new campaign gives them hope.

"We are not going away," Norm said.

And neither is the problem of college drinking. Sometimes, the quickest and simplest way to find out what's going on in someone's life is to check their trash - the things they throw away.

Classes haven't started, but the good times have. Neighborhood alleys near campus are littered with party trash.

So far, authorities credit the Lifeline law with saving seven teenagers. In his opening convocation, Butler President James Danko told students they are responsible for each other and, at some point, need to think about keeping other people safe.

The $40,000 media blitz will run until Mid-October. Hopefully students will get the message that they can help a friend in trouble, without getting in trouble.