Meeting, New Bill Aimed At Rising Overdose Numbers
SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) – The opiate overdose reversal drug, naloxone or narcan, has been at the disposal of trained Amherst firefighters for decades.
“Usually within a minute or so, it starts to work. It gets them back. It’s all dose dependent and weight dependent,” Amherst Firefighter Casey Bergeron said.
Now, the push is now on for many with less medical experience like police officers, health counselors, and other individuals to also carry narcan so it can be used faster. Senator Ed Markey’s new bill would protect those groups from liability, so long as the legally acquire the drug and are trained to use it.
Stats say at least two people each day in Massachusetts are dying of opiate overdoses, while three die on average each day in Vermont.
“As far as I’m concerned, this is a game changer for the country,” Chief Medical Officer of CleanSlate Centers Dr. Maria Russo-Appel said.
Dr.Russo-Appel says those who work with addicts should be able to safely save them.
“Certainly there may be medical liabilities in that for someone whose not for example a medical doctor but putting it under good Samaritan law protects people, perhaps mental health counselors, for example, people who are not ‘Mds.’, in a life saving way,” Dr. Russo-Appel said.
First responders agree narcan undoubtedly saves lives, so long as proper training remains a major priority.
“They need to know what they are looking for, they need to know what’s going to happen after, if and when they wake up, or if they don’t wake up what they are going to do. Are they causing a delay in response from paramedics or by an ambulance?,” Bergeron cautioned.
Others question the affordability for both police departments and individuals to acquire and use supplies needed for narcan.
Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, along with Congressman Richard Neal and Senator Edward Markey, will hold a public meeting to publicly discuss the bill, as well as heroin and prescription drug abuse in western Massachusetts.