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Dinniman/Rafferty Bill to Help Emergency Responders Save Overdose Victims
WEST CHESTER (May 27) – State Senators Andy Dinniman and John Rafferty Jr. want to give emergency responders and others who may be in contact with opioid overdose victims the ability to administer Naloxone, which reverses the effects of such drugs and can save lives.
At a Tuesday press conference, they were joined by emergency responders, law enforcement, local health officials and the family of an overdose victim to announce the introduction of Senate Bill 1376, legislation that would let police officers, firefighters, and EMT’s apply for the training and authority to give Naloxone. The bill would also extend such rights to the family and friends of addicts who ask for it.
Naloxone is safe, not a controlled substance and has no abuse potential. It can be given intravenously or as a nasal spray.
“Local emergency responders note how the incidence of heroin overdose has dramatically increased, often with tragic results, within our community,” Dinniman said, noting that 24 people died from heroin overdoses in Chester County in 2013, according to the district attorney’s office.“My bill addresses this problem from both in the present and the future. It gives our emergency responders the tools they need to save lives today, and it also ramps up the Pennsylvania Health Department’s efforts to stop opioid abuse before it begins.”
“The scourge of heroin overdose in this Commonwealth has claimed too many lives and ruined too many families,” said Rafferty. “Our law enforcement and first responders support this emergency measure and if allowing them to administer this life saving drug saves just one life, then we have accomplished our goal.”
William Wells, Director of the Good Fellowship EMS Training Institute in West Chester, said, “Good Fellowship has a proud and honored history to do everything we can to preserve life. We believe that this treatment will save lives.”
Senate Bill 1376 would also protect from criminal or civil liability those who administer Naloxone to someone they believe is suffering an opioid overdose. Such protection would also be given to those who summon medical assistance for an overdose victim.
Also attending the press conference were Sadsburyville residents Cathie O’Donnell and Brianna O’Donnell, the mother and sister of 22-year-old Shane O’Donnell, who died of a drug overdose on October 25, 2013.
Cathie O’Donnell said she supports Dinniman’s and Rafferty’s Senate Bill 1376 because “This is something we can do now. Education is important as are other steps to prevent people from becoming addicted in the first place. But Senate Bill 1376 is what we need to save the lives of those struggling with addiction today.”