WEST CHESTER (September 25) – The Pennsylvania Senate has approved a bill to let emergency responders carry the overdose-antidote drug Naloxone (Narcan), a measure introduced and pushed by state Sen. Andy Dinniman, fellow lawmakers, emergency responders and others in May at the Good Fellowship EMS Training Institute in West Chester.

The legislation now goes to the governor for his approval.

Dinniman and the entire Senate on Wednesday unanimously agreed that police officers, EMT’s, firefighters and others most likely to first find an overdose victim should be able to carry the drug that reverses the effects of opiates.

Pictured (from left to right) Senator Dinniman, Senator Rafferty, state Rep. Becky Corbin and Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan at the May press conference at Good Fellowship Ambulance.

Pictured (from left to right) Senator Dinniman, Senator Rafferty, state Rep. Becky Corbin and Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan at the May press conference at Good Fellowship Ambulance.

“Our emergency responders are in the business of saving lives, and it’s incumbent on us to give them the tools they need,” Dinniman said. “In my particular case, Good Fellowship’s William Wells first reached out to me in March and asked for legislation giving first responders the ability to carry and administer Naloxone. It’s very satisfying that we were able to fulfill his request within a matter of months.”

Sen. John C. Rafferty, Jr. (R, 44) who joined with Dinniman on the issue said, “I am happy to continue to work with Dinniman to assist our emergency services providers by having amended Senate Bill 1164 to provide Narcan for those in critical need.”

Standing with Dinniman and Rafferty at the May 27 press conference were Cathie O’Donnell and Brianna O’Donnell, the mother and sister of 22-year-old Shane O’Donnell, who died of a drug overdose in October 2013.

“I am thrilled that Senate Bill 1164 has been passed by the Senate today and that it includes an amendment to let first responders carry and administer Narcan,” said O’Donnell.

On the senate floor, Dinniman praised those from Chester County including emergency first responders and parents of overdose victims who worked so hard to get the bill and legislation passed.

Senate Bill 1164, authored by Sen. Dominic Pileggi, provides immunity from prosecution for those who assist someone who is suffering from a drug overdose. The Naloxone amendment referenced by O’Donnell was added to Senate Bill 1164 by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in June after a public push including May’s Good Fellowship press conference.

“This bill is extremely important in helping to save our children and decreasing the number of deaths related to overdose,” O’Donnell continued. “I would like to thank the senators for their work to get this bill passed. I would also like to thank everyone who joined me in pushing for this legislation.”

In Chester County, 24 people died of heroin overdose in 2013. On Tuesday, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania released its report, “Heroin: Combating this Growing Epidemic in Pennsylvania,” which reported that 17 states plus the District of Columbia have laws similar to what the Pennsylvania Senate passed today. The laws have contributed to saving more than 10,000 lives. The report quoted Pennsylvania Department of Health statistics that said overdose deaths in Pennsylvania have increased by 470 percent over the last two decades.

 

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