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Overdose reversals: York County ranks second in Pa.

Written by Joel Shannon/York Daily Record | Apr 11, 2017 7:26 PM
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Photo by Ben Allen/witf

(York) -- Naloxone is a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses -- including heroin. And law enforcement officers in York County have used it more than almost anywhere else in the state.

Police in York County reversed 365 overdoses since the medication was made available to police and firefighters here in November 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs reports.

Only Delaware County has more known OD reversals with 545.

York County is high on the list, in part, because it was one of the first to provide Naloxone to first responders, explained Matthew Howie, executive director of the York Regional Opiate Collaborative.

It took York County about six months after the legislation passed to start putting Naloxone in the hands of law enforcement, according to York County Coroner Pam Gay.

Currently, York is one of 27 counties with all municipal police forces across the county carrying Naloxone, according to DDAP.

In the majority of Pennsylvania counties, only a limited number of police forces carry the drug. In three counties, no local police carry it.

State grants allow the DDAP to provide any local police forces with Naloxone -- it's just a matter of opting in, said DDAP spokesperson Carol Gifford in an email.

Early adoption is just part of the picture in York, though. Gay and Howie agree that York County's rank points to the increasing prevalence and potency of opioids like heroin.

Gay sees evidence in York and surrounding counties that more people are using heroin, leading to more deaths and more need for the heroin antidote.

There's one other thing York's high ranking says, according to Howie: York County's police departments are doing great work in a difficult job.

It's a "testament to the police officers embracing something they never intended," he said.

Saving someone from an overdose is a far cry from the typical police beat that many probably expected when they signed up to be an officer, said Howie.


This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

Published in News, York

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