Franklin County law enforcement will carry Naloxone

Written by Becky Metrick/Chambersburg Public Opinion | Feb 3, 2016 4:05 AM

Photo of the opioid overdose kit to be used by Franklin County Law Enforcement.(Photo: Franklin County District Attorney's Office)

(Chambersburg) -- Add Franklin County law enforcement to the list of midstate police departments that will be issued Naloxone to carry while on duty.

The life-saving drug, commonly known as Narcan, reverses effects of an opiate/opioid overdose, like heroin or prescription OxyContin.

It's part of a statewide effort to address the heroin epidemic.

Franklin County District Attorney Matt Fogal made the announcement Tuesday.

He cites the Pennsylvania Department of Health as saying "Naloxone is a medication that can reverse an overdose that is caused by an opioid drug," and that it has been in use by medical professionals for more than 40 years.

"As law enforcement officers are often 'first responders' to overdose events, there is a real chance that lives can be saved. In other counties in Pennsylvania, they already have. In 2015, police officers carrying Naloxone in just a handful of counties were able to reverse 453 overdoses," Fogal said.

"We in law enforcement recognize that every single life is precious and a gift, and that we must do all we can to help victims who are suffering. The addicts who have fallen prey to the disease of addiction are our sons, daughters, husbands, wives, parents, and friends. They matter," Fogal said. "This is not about 'us' and 'them.' In this great country and in this community, it must always be viewed as 'us.' While much must be done in order to combat addiction and the scourge illegal drugs bring to our front doors, this effort moves us closer to recognizing the grayness of the line between addiction and crime."

Fogal states in the press release that many in the country have dealt with addicted family members, or know someone who has.

"Make no mistake, many have in fact been victimized but decided not to report the crime," Fogal said. "The addict's behavior is often all-consuming for the family and their other extended family members and friends, and their unpredictable and risky behavior adds an incredible amount of heartache and worry and stress to all within that circle. Law enforcement cares about them as well, and certainly shares most everyone's frustration with the endless cycle of the disease of addiction and its symptom of criminal behavior."

Fogal thanked the Pennsylvania District Attorney's Association, The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, Summit Health and the Capital Blue Cross for assisting him and fellow law enforcement in obtaining access to Naloxone.

Fogal said the Capital Blue Cross, a health insurance provider, gave the initial funding for the Naloxone, and in the future the county will buy the Naloxone and be reimbursed. This is all a part of an initiative brought forth by the Pennsylvania District Attorney's Association to make Naloxone available to law enforcement without additional costs to community members. Fogal said that after a year of looking for ways to provide Naloxone to law enforcement, this was how the county decided to proceed.

"Thanks in part to this team of professionals, every law enforcement officer in Franklin County will be carrying a packet of Naloxone on his/her person, and will be trained to administer it to victims of addiction," Fogal said.

*This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between WITF and theChambersburg Public Opinion.

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