Editorial: Because every life matters
05/03/2016 12:58PM ● Published by Richard Gaw
What began in 2014 with the passage of Act 139 – legislation spearheaded by Sen. Andy Dinniman that gives police officers, emergency medical responders, firefighters the authority to carry and administer Naloxone, an antidote for reversing opiate overdoses – has become an essential component of safety in the county. In less than two years, Project Naloxone, initiated by the Good Fellowship Ambulance and EMS Training Institute in West Chester, has helped to save the lives of nearly 50 individuals across the county. Naloxone kits are provided free to police departments in the county, and once a kit has been used, it is immediately replaced with a new one, by Good Fellowship.
The timing of the initiative – which is now in place at several police units in southern Chester County – could not have been more perfect. In a 2014 report issued by Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan, the county experienced 24 overdose deaths that year, and 18 of those overdoses – 75 percent – involved both heroin and prescription drugs.
The horrific presence of drugs in our schools and on our streets is exacerbated by the fact that Chester County lay smack in the middle of a searingly molten area of drug trafficking, where access to heroin and other opiates is cheap and easily available along the I-95 corridor and Wilmington, which are both less than 30 minutes away; and in Philadelphia, which is a within a one-hour drive. Chester County is merely a dot on the map when it comes to the opiate scourge; a report by the Pennsylvania State Coroners Association reported that 2,489 people died in 2014 from drug poisoning – about seven people a day.
To some, Project Naloxone is merely a band-aid placed on a giant wound that shows no signs of healing. Fifty “saves” is a good number, but is it about to hold back what has all the force of a tidal wave?
For the moment, no, but it stands to reason that the program is still in its infancy. It is the mission of Good Fellowship to have Project Naloxone in every police department in the county; to be a part of the safety program in every school in the county, in every county agency and at every county organization.
The crisis that has become the heroin and opiate epidemic in Chester County first began as an outbreak. It has manifested itself as a tragedy through the slow tick of time. Similarly, the efforts made by Good Fellowship to confront this tragedy can also be solved through time.
It is time for every agency in Chester County to enlist in Project Naloxone.