Pittsburgh, PA – Department of Health officials Tuesday were joined by Allegheny County officials to discuss the importance of naloxone as part of Stop Overdoses in PA: Get Help Now Week, a statewide initiative to get the overdose reversal medication naloxone to Pennsylvanians and get help for residents suffering from the disease of opioid-use disorder.
“The availability of naloxone to our first responders, including EMS providers, police and firefighters is crucial as we work to address the opioid epidemic,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “It is essential that every first responder agency carries naloxone and is prepared to save the life of someone who has overdosed. We encourage agencies to leave-behind naloxone to further help those who are susceptible to overdosing.”
Health officials met with EMS providers and police officers in Allegheny County who are participating in the naloxone leave-behind program, an important initiative allowing first responders to leave-behind naloxone with family, friends or loved ones of someone who has overdosed. To date, over 600 kits of naloxone have been left behind as part of the program.
Dr. Karen Hacker, Director of the Allegheny County Health Department, spoke about the impact of the opioid crisis in the county, and local first responders also spoke about their role as the entire state works to address this crisis.
As part of Stop Overdoses in PA: Get Help Now Week, residents will be able to go to a state health center or their local pharmacy to get the overdose reversal medication naloxone. This medication reverses the effects of an opioid overdose and gives the patient a chance at recovery.
“We cannot get someone into treatment if they are dead,” Governor Wolf said. “Naloxone saves lives and we should all carry it because you never know when you will get the chance to help someone. This year alone, emergency medical services have saved more than 9,000 Pennsylvanians using naloxone and transported 92 percent of them to the hospital for treatment.”
Since Governor Wolf first signed a heroin and opioid disaster declaration in January, 16 state agencies have continuously worked to fight the opioid epidemic and have made significant progress to help individuals and families dealing with this crisis. Some accomplishments include waiving birth certificate fees for individuals seeking treatment, using federal Medicaid funding in treatment facilities to provide more than 12,000 individuals access to medically necessary treatment, and providing career services to people who have been impacted by the opioid epidemic and plan to return to work.
For more information on Pennsylvania’s response to the opioid crisis visit https://www.pa.gov/guides/opioid-epidemic/#StopOverdosesinPAWeek.
MEDIA CONTACT: Nate Wardle, 717-787-1783
# # #