Johnstown, PA (WJAC) — Next Thursday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's administration plans to distribute thousands of naloxone kits to 80 locations across the state, including multiple counties in our region. The goal is to help reduce drug-related deaths and overdoses in the state and hopefully help to get Pennsylvanians into treatment.
“We have had 77 incidents in which law enforcement officers have successfully revived a patient using naloxone since 2017,” said Cambria County Assistant District Attorney Arnold Bernard Jr. “That is 77 lives saved as a direct result of a greater availability of this opioid overdose-reversal drug.”
Some are calling the availability of naloxone a double-edged sword. While it’s helping to reduce overdose deaths, some question whether it's enabling drug use. But no matter what, the goal is always saving lives and getting residents the help they need.
“I think we have to keep in mind here, the ultimate goal here is to save lives and turn lives around, and in order to do that, we have to try to keep people from dying as a result of an overdose,” said Bernard.
Drug deaths have dramatically decreased in Cambria County over the past few years, and local officials say it's because of easy access to naloxone. But first responders say the availability is creating a whole new problem.
“I worry that sometimes when bystanders are giving it, they are going to not call for the ambulance, maybe thinking they are going to keep somebody from trouble, but these people need to be thoroughly checked out and assessed every time,” said East Hills Ambulance Company paramedic Richard Foor.
The distribution is next Thursday, Dec. 13, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Cambria County Health Department.