Good Samaritan Protocol

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Alcohol poisoning – and other drug-related emergencies – can be life-threatening. 

If you think your friend may have had too much to drink, is having an adverse reaction to a drug, or if they have sustained a head injury while drinking or using other drugs, it is imperative you call 911

Under Cornell’s Good Samaritan Protocol (“Good Sam”), those who call for help – and those who receive help – in an alcohol- or drug-related emergency are protected from judicial consequences. (See details below.)

Cornell’s Good Samaritan Protocol … 

a) applies when the allegations under the Campus Code of Conduct involve: 

  • underage consumption of alcohol
  • use of other drugs
  • disorderly conduct

b) eliminates judicial consequences for:

  • students seeking assistance (those involved in making the call)
  • the assisted individual

c) mitigates judicial consequences for:

  • organizations seeking assistance

d) does not preclude disciplinary action regarding other violations, such as:

  • fake identification
  • causing or threatening physical harm
  • sexual violence 
  • damage to property
  • unlawful provision of alcohol or other drugs
  • harassment
  • hazing

In order for this protocol to apply … 

The assisted student must agree to timely completion of assigned alcohol and/or drug education activities (e.g., participation in Cornell Health’s BASICS program at no cost for the first incident; case-by-case interventions for subsequent incidents). Additional assessment and/or treatment programs may be assigned by Cornell University depending on the level of concern for student health and safety. 

  • Failure to complete recommended follow-up will normally result in revocation of judicial amnesty.
  • Repeated incidents may prompt a higher degree of medical concern with the possibility of non-judicial university responses, such as parental notification and health leaves of absence.

Organizations involved in an incident must agree to take recommended steps to address concerns, such as educational follow up.  Multiple incidents may result in revocation of an organization’s recognition. The Good Samaritan Protocol is incorporated into the Fraternity and Sorority Life Event Management Guidelines. Additionally, in March 2011, the student-run Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) passed a resolution which resolved to apply Medical Amnesty/Good Sam within their organizations. 

About the protocol

Cornell’s Good Samaritan Protocol is part of the University’s comprehensive approach to reducing the harmful consequences caused by the use of alcohol or other drugs. It also promotes education for individuals who receive emergency medical attention related to their own use of alcohol or other drugs in order to reduce the likelihood of future occurrences.

Cornell’s protocol is similar to New York State’s Good Samaritan Law. Cornell’s Good Samaritan Protocol applies to the university policies, while New York’s Good Samaritan Law applies off-campus and throughout the rest of the state. For more information about New York State’s Good Samaritan law, consider reading “911 Good Samaritan: Explaining New York’s Fatal Overdose Prevention Law."

Since the implementation of this university protocol in the fall of 2002 (formerly called the Medical Amnesty Protocol), we have found an increase in on-campus alcohol-related calls to the emergency medical services (EMS). However, the percent of these calls requiring a hospital emergency room visit has decreased. This suggests that the protocol is helping to reduce barriers to calling for assistance. For findings regarding the efficacy of the protocol, as well as suggestions for other campuses considering replicating Medical Amnesty Protocol/Good Samaritan Protocol, please see the peer reviewed journal article “Safety first: A medical amnesty approach to alcohol poisoning at a U.S. university.”  

If you have any questions, please contact Cornell’s Office of the Judicial Administrator (judadmin@cornell.edu or 607-255-4680).