News

Adams County police to carry naloxone

Written by Chris Cappella/Hanover Evening Sun | Dec 17, 2015 10:23 AM
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Photo by Ben Allen/witf

(Gettysburg) -- Heroin and prescription drug abuse is a problem that almost every county in America deals with, a county official said. A spike of heroin doses around the country has local governing bodies looking for solutions.

"Unless you're living on the moon, I don't know how you couldn't be exposed to this," Commissioner Chairman Randy Phiel said

Adams County District Attorney Shawn Wagner spoke to the commissioners at Wednesday's meeting about naloxone, a prescription drug used to reverse the effects of heroin and other opioid overdoses. State police and first responders have been carrying the drug since the beginning of the year, but now local police departments will have their chance to carry the drug.

At the request of Wagner, the commissioners, district attorney's office and Adams Regional Emergency Medical Services entered an agreement to allow officers to administer naloxone when necessary. There are times where local police departments are the first responders to overdoses. In those situations, they need the drug to revive the user, he said.

Wagner went to every local police department in Adams County to gauge their interest in carrying the drug back in August, he said. Carroll Valley Borough, Cumberland Township, Gettysburg Borough, Littlestown Borough and Reading Township police departments have all agreed to start carrying it.

Conewago Township Police Department is expected to be the sixth department that joins the agreement, Wagner said.

"There will be lives saved by proper administration," he said. "I hope if a life is saved, it'll force that individual to take a step back and make a change."

The distribution and training involved with the drug will originally be funded by the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, which will then be reimbursed by a grant from Capital BlueCross, Wagner said. The drug will cost $42 per dosage unit, which will be provided to the departments on an as-needed basis, he said.

The police departments are expected to begin carrying the drug early in 2016, but no exact date has been set yet, Wagner said.

Naloxone is a powerful drug, Commissioner Marty Qually said. While it does help save lives, the users response to it is usually painful, he said. Capitalizing on that moment after revival is important to kickstart the rehabilitation process, Qually said.

"Their high is suddenly and completely reversed. What they were looking for is suddenly gone," he said. "It's not a pleasant experience for the user.You want to get them into treatment quickly because some users will turnaround and use again. That's the key, getting them into treatment quickly, because if they don't the underlying issue isn't going to change.

Pennsylvania legislation passed Act 139 in 2014 allowing state police and EMS responders to administer the drug, Solicitor John Hartzell said. Also part of that act is an immunity clause, allowing anyone to call in an overdose to police without fear of being charged with a crime, according to the document. Qually believes that the immunity clause will help prevent more overdose deaths, he said.

"I think a lot of it is they want to create that good Samaritan," Qually said. "If you have another person using, you're not going to call because you're afraid you're going to get arrested. This gives you the ability to call without repercussion. It provides protection."

Police departments that have not entered the agreement can at any time, Wagner said.


This article comes to us through a parntership between the Evening Sun and WITF.

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