HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 2, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf today announced that the Pennsylvania Capitol Police are now trained to administer and will carry the life-saving opioid overdose reversal antidote known as naloxone.
"In October, my administration took the step of signing a statewide standing order for naloxone as part of our fight against the addiction and overdose epidemic in our state," said Governor Wolf. "Now, we are bringing that fight to the very steps of the Capitol with the ability for the Pennsylvania Capitol Police to now carry and administer this life-saving medication."
The Pennsylvania Capitol Police are an accredited law enforcement agency with full arrest powers that investigates all reported crimes within its jurisdiction of state-owned properties and buildings in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Scranton. The force maintains a 24 hours a day and seven days a week presence in Harrisburg, where they also provide assistance to the city of Harrisburg Police Department and other surrounding local law enforcement agencies. The organization falls under the oversight of the Pennsylvania Department of General Services.
Governor Wolf was joined in the announcement by Secretary of General Services Curt Topper, Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy, Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs Gary Tennis, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency Chairman Josh Shapiro, Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine, and Pennsylvania Capitol Police Deputy Superintendent Kevin Brown.
"This is a significant enhancement to the capabilities of Pennsylvania Capitol Police officers," DGS Secretary Curt Topper noted. "Many times, Pennsylvania Capitol Police officers are called upon to assist local law enforcement agencies and are the first responders on scene. In a situation such as a drug overdose, the ability to administer naloxone in a timely manner can be the difference between life and death. This will allow our officers to continue to protect the well-being and safety of those who visit, work and live in the areas of the Pennsylvania Capitol Police jurisdiction and the surrounding areas."
According to the PA Capitol Police, they have seen a significant increase in the amount of medical emergencies involving heroin and opioid overdoses which caused them to take a closer look at the reality of having their officers carry naloxone.
"In 2014 we had one response involving a heroin overdose compared to 12 thus far in 2015," DGS Secretary Curt Topper noted. "As a result of the rise in the number of overdose responses, the leadership of Pennsylvania Capitol Police felt it was important to get their officers trained and carrying naloxone."
In November, all 89 Pennsylvania Capitol Police Officers took the half-hour mandatory online training provided by the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police to administer naloxone. This was followed up with an additional 45-minute training to familiarize officers with the use of the EVZIO Auto-injector unit, which all officers now carry.
The rise in heroin addiction and prescription drug abuse has quickly led to a public health crisis in Pennsylvania, where one in four families suffer from the effects of substance abuse addiction. Heroin and opioid overdose are now the leading cause of accidental death in Pennsylvania, killing more individuals than those involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents. In 2014, 2,400 Pennsylvanians died from drug overdoses.
Since his inauguration, Governor Wolf has worked with his administration to provide real solutions not only to save lives but also to help addicted individuals and their families get the treatment they need to live long, productive lives. Such actions taken by the Wolf Administration include the development of the ABC-MAP prescription drug monitoring program, the creation of the interagency Heroin Task Force, the support for the use of naloxone at schools across the Commonwealth, and stocking all Pennsylvania State Police cars with the naloxone drug. Since equipping State Police cars with naloxone, over 300 lives have been saved with this drug.
MEDIA CONTACT: Jeffrey Sheridan, Governor's Office 717-783-1116
Troy Thompson, General Services, 717-787-3917
SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor