Stories about tragic drug overdoses and the concern for heroin use in our local communities seem to always hit the news. The steps that are being taken to reduce some of the suffering from drug addiction don’t usually get the same attention. Hopefully, news will spread about legislation that has been signed into law on October 1, 2014, by the Governor.
The legislation aimed at making an antidote to opioid overdoses more widely available will now be the law in Pennsylvania. The law, knows as Senate Bill 1299 of the Session of 2014, permits first responders, including law enforcement, firefighters and others who provide emergency response, the ability to administer the antidote. This expands those who can use the antidote beyond paramedics (the only emergency personnel previously authorized to carry the antidote), who may not be the first on the scene of an overdose. The law also protects those who reasonably try to help from civil liability. Most importantly, doctors can prescribe the antidote not only to the person at risk of overdose, but also to a family member or friend that is the most likely person to find an at-risk person in distress.
As we know, the law needs people to take action in order to make these important changes worthwhile. Training will have to be done so that police officers and firefighters can be confident in the use of the antidote. The additional emergency personnel will also have to carry the antidote. However, for those people with loved ones who may be in danger of an overdose, an immediate talk with a doctor will be the first step in allowing this legislation to make a difference — and that difference may be that lives can be saved.