To help save lives and combat the growing heroin and opioid epidemic facing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, state Senator Gene Yaw (R-23) today announced two upcoming Overdose Prevention Seminars for local law enforcement, EMS, Fire Departments and School District officials in the 23rd Senatorial District.
On Monday, August 29th, Yaw will host seminars at the Wysox Volunteer Fire Hall, Bradford County, from 10AM-11:30AM and at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, Lycoming County, from 2PM-3:30PM.
Attendees will hear from Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol (DDAP) Secretary Gary Tennis and state Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine, who will offer a free naloxone training for interested participants. The presentations will also feature warning signs of drug addiction, available treatment options, personal stories of recovery, and more.
“During these seminars, individuals will hear testimonials, have the opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns, and also learn how to administer naloxone if they choose,” Yaw said. “I understand there is reluctance by many to use this lifesaving antidote,” Yaw added. “But, as has been noted before, you cannot get someone the treatment they need if they are already dead.”
In 2014, Senate Bill 1164, now Act 139, provided legal protection for witnesses, or Good Samaritans, seeking medical help at the scene of an overdose. In addition, it allowed naloxone, also known under its brand name Narcan, to be prescribed to a third party, such as a friend or family member, and administered by law enforcement and firefighters.
“The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs has made getting naloxone into the hands of municipal police one of its top priorities,” DDAP Secretary Gary Tennis said. “More than 400 municipal police departments have taken up the call to carry naloxone and have reversed more than 1,300 overdoses. These officers are true heroes. However, there is much work to be done, because there are still some counties where no municipal police departments are carrying this life-saving medication and it is costing lives. In the worst public health crisis of the last 100 years and worst-ever overdose death epidemic, this is unacceptable.”
With nearly 3,383 drug-related overdose deaths in Pennsylvania in 2015, police are instrumental in saving the lives of anyone who overdoses on prescription pain medication or heroin. According to a Center for Rural Pennsylvania survey of police departments, police are first on the scene of an overdose approximately 70 percent of the time.
“The prescription opioid and heroin overdose crisis is the worst public health crisis in Pennsylvania,” said Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine. “In 2015, 10 people a day died of a drug overdose in the commonwealth. Naloxone is a life-saving medication that is safe and effective. It does not cause someone to get high. It is not addictive. It has one use, and one use only, to reverse the fatal effects of an opioid drug overdose. I thank Senator Yaw for his commitment to raising awareness of this medication as a tool to keep Pennsylvanians alive and give them an opportunity for recovery.”
“The Wolf Administration and the Department of Health view increased statewide access to naloxone as another crucial step in combatting the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy. “It is our responsibility to give individuals struggling with substance use disorder the resources they need to recover. By equipping trained professionals with naloxone, we are providing another way to save the lives of Pennsylvanians. We at the department are grateful to Senator Yaw for helping to provide this education to the community.”
All trainees will receive a certificate of completion following the training portion of the seminar(s).
While the program is geared toward emergency service professionals and school districts, Sen. Yaw encourages anyone interested to attend, but seating is limited. Residents must pre-register either by visiting Sen. Yaw’s website at https://www.senatorgeneyaw.com/naloxone-forum/ or by calling (717) 787-3280.
Sen. Yaw Remarks Listen
Rita Zielonis, Chief of Staff