Austin, TX – Today, State Representative John Raney (R-Bryan/College Station) filed House Bill 1694 that would protect from prosecution any Texan who calls 911 to aid an individual who appears to have overdosed as well as the person for whom aid is sought. The intent is to remove the potential barrier of liability concerns, shifting the focus solely to rendering aid.
In 2018, more than 3,000 Texans died from drug overdose, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this problem. The National Center for Health Statistics estimates an overall escalation in drug overdose deaths in Texas of 21.8% from June 2019 to June 2020 due to the pandemic. Additionally, as of August 2020, first responder reports of overdose-related cardiac arrests were up 48.5%.
Knowledge of Good Samaritan laws that protect 911 callers and overdose victims from prosecution has been shown to decrease drug overdose-related deaths by up to 15%. Currently, 40 states and the District of Colombia have passed Good Samaritan laws to encourage the use of emergency assistance in the case of a drug overdose.
“This is the third time this legislation has been filed since 2015, when HB 225 by Rep. Ryan Guillen received near unanimous support but was subsequently vetoed by Governor Abbott. I filed the legislation again in 2019. If a death can be avoided by one phone advantage of that opportunity? There is a law in place in Texas that protects those who seek emergency assistance in situations related to underage drinking. Similar protections should be afforded to those who seek assistance in drug-related situations. It’s time to join the 40 states and D.C. in saving lives,” said Rep. Raney.
To stay up to date on the progress of this bill or for more information, visit www.capitol.texas.gov.