Pa. city council approves FFs to administer naloxone to OD victims

Most of Jeannette's three paid FFs and 30 call members are already EMTs or medics, but they are doing extra training to learn how to properly administer the drug


Renatta Signorini
Tribune-Review, Greensburg, Pa.

JEANNETTE, Pa. — Jeannette firefighters have a new tool in their arsenal to help save lives — naloxone.

Fire Chief Bill Frye said a program being undertaken by the department allows firefighters to carry and administer the drug that can reverse opioid overdoses. Each truck will have at least two doses.

The Jeannette Fire Department is working with the state's Naloxone for First Responders Program through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to obtain doses for free.
The Jeannette Fire Department is working with the state's Naloxone for First Responders Program through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to obtain doses for free.

"We're always here to do anything we can to help," he said. "But also, it's a good protective measure to have in place for our own responders."

City council unanimously approved the program Thursday. The department is working with the state's Naloxone for First Responders Program through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to obtain doses for free. Groups such as clinics, jails, shelters, schools and restaurants can qualify to receive the doses under the program.

Most of Jeannette's three full-time, paid firefighters and 30 call firefighters are already EMTs or paramedics, but they are undergoing additional training to learn how to properly administer the drug, Frye said. Firefighters are called to any report of an unresponsive person in the city and may find themselves on their own to help, depending on ambulance availability, he said.

Drug overdoses have been rising again locally and nationally — tallying 168 accidental drug overdose deaths in 2021 Westmoreland County, the highest point since 2017, according to the coroner's annual report.

After hitting a high point in 2017 with 193 drug overdose deaths, the statistics dropped dramatically to 122, 115 and 123 deaths in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. The figure for 2021 is more than double the deaths from 10 years ago, when 64 people died from drug overdose, according to coroner statistics.

Frye said first responders have noticed an increase in overdose calls and they respond to an average of one per week. The naloxone can serve a dual purpose to aid first responders who may come in contact with opioids during a call.

The program will be starting this month.

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(c)2022 Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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