Police are Now Allowed to Administer Emergency Treatment Drugs to Counter the Effects of Opioid Overdose

Naloxone Drugs, known as Narcan, a medication utilized to counteract opioid overdose, is given by Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol program in cooperation with Wayne County District Attorney’s Drug Task Force, for distribution to the local police departments to be proactive in the fight against heroin addiction and overdose.
Act 139, signed by Governor Corbett on November 29, 2014, allows first responders (law enforcement, fire fighters, EMS) to give the drug to people who are experiencing an opioid over use.

Hawley’s police chief, Daniel Drake, “wisely didn’t sign it” but instead gave him the proposed arrangement to review it first, during the March 11th Hawley Council meeting, Borough Solicitor Robert Bernathy explained. Mary Sanders, Council Vice-president, noted that the Police Committee had a discussion about it, and expressed her desire to receive first the guidelines and procedures from the DA’s Office before agreeing to anything.
Chief Drake said, “I don’t foresee any issue but I wanted more information first,”

Council wants information about training, storage and managing records before agreeing to participate. Bernathy said that he is concerned about liability and exposure that the Borough might have.
Honesdale Borough Council has voted against it.

“Wayne County DA Chief Detective Hower prepared a policy on the training needed, use of the antidote, storage of the antidote and distribution to local police departments. This guideline and plan were discussed in earnest at the District Attorney’s quarterly Chiefs of Police Meeting held on January 20, 2015. Both Waymart and Lehigh Township Police Departments executed the Agreement to receive their shares of Naloxone,” DA Edwards commented.

“The DA’s office was not asked to come to the meeting to inform the council on this program but I am disappointed in the vote to not approve use of this life saving tool. I do intend to revisit this issue with Honesdale Borough Council in the immediate future,” she continued.

Immunity from prosecution, exists to those first responders who provide Naloxone to an individual overdosing under Act 139, she noted.

Act 139 is entitled, “Naloxone – Opioid Overdose Reversal Act.” DA Edwards stated, “The enactment of Act 139 provides first responders, friends and families access to an opioid overdose reversal medicine that will save lives and hopefully lead an individual toward the substance abuse treatment they need. Act 139 allows first responders (law enforcement, fire fighters, EMS) to administer the drug to individuals experiencing an opioid overdose. The law also provides immunity from prosecution for those responding to and reporting overdoses.

Act 139 provides a ‘Good Samaritan’ provision to insulate them from any legal actions. She continue that Naloxone may even be given to members of the community, family members or friends to assist in an overdose condition.

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