Police Survey: Majority of PA Municipal Police Departments Respond to Drug Overdose Calls; Antidote Not Part of Response Kit

HARRISBURG – Eighty-four percent of Pennsylvania municipal police departments participating in a statewide survey conducted by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs said they responded to one or more drug-related overdose calls in the last 12 months. The survey also revealed that 82 percent of local police departments are not currently carrying naloxone, a medication that can reverse an overdose caused by an opioid drug.

Act 139 of 2014, also known as David’s Law, allows all first responders, including law enforcement, firefighters, EMS or other organizations, to carry and administer naloxone.

“In order for people to receive treatment for their addiction, they have to be alive,” state Senator Gene Yaw said. Yaw, who serves as chairman of the Center’s Board of Directors, noted that heroin addiction has no municipal boundaries, and, in most cases, law enforcement is the first to arrive on the scene of an overdose. “I think it’s imperative that more of our law enforcement professionals be equipped with this life saving antidote.”

The survey was sent to 1,008 municipal police chiefs in late May to determine how many departments are currently carrying the medication, identify where coverage gaps may exist, and identify barriers to its use. By June 30, 578 completed surveys were returned, for a response rate of 57.3 percent.

While the majority of municipal police departments who responded to the survey said they are not currently carrying naloxone, 28 percent said they planned to provide naloxone to their officers within the next 3 months.

The survey also revealed that reliance on EMS personnel and cost concerns are two main reasons why municipal police departments are not carrying naloxone. Other reasons included concerns about officer safety, difficulty in accessing training on using the medication, and liability concerns.

The survey results, Pennsylvania Municipal Police Departments and Naloxone, are available on the Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s website (www.rural.palegislature.us).

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bicameral, bipartisan research agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

For more information, contact:

Christine Caldara Piatos
(717) 787-9555


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