Trending Topics

Pa. county health department launches overdose response initiative

Delco Revive provides free training and materials to respond to an overdose

By Kathleen E. Carey
Daily Times

DELAWARE COUNTY, Pa. — Phil Waibel decided to give life a chance again as he lay in the ambulance on his way to the hospital after being revived by Narcan — and that’s one reason the Delaware County Health Department launched Delco Revive Tuesday.

“Narcan was, and I say this very sincerely, the catalyst that tipped the scales in favor of life over death for me in my experience,” the 28-year-old county resident said.

Delco Revive offers free harm-reduction techniques that include free Narcan nasal spray, fentanyl and Xylazine test strips, and wound care kits, as well as CPR training and stop-the-bleed tourniquet training.

“All of these tools are available at our three locations of the Delaware County Health Department,” Public Health Director Melissa Lyon said.

Those locations, all open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, are the Delaware County Wellness Center at Yeadon, 125 Chester Ave.; the Delaware County Wellness Center at Chester, 151 W. Fifth St.; and the department’s Eddystone location at 1510 Chester Pike, Suite 700.

CPR certification and stop-the-bleed training appointments are also available for free through the Delaware County Wellness Line at 484-276-2100 or through

Fighting addiction

Waibel shared his story of battling an opiate addiction that started when he was in college as a “weekend warrior” type of recreation.

“It progressed,” he said. “I couldn’t even see it progressing. It got to the point where it did dominate my life.”

It got to the point, he said, that he lost his girlfriend, his job and potential career and was evicted from his apartment.

“As a young man, I had to move back into my parents’ house,” Waibel said. “I remember looking around, thinking, ‘I’m viciously addicted to these substances. I really got nothing going on for me.’ So, I made a conscious choice to go out.

“I overdosed, and the next thing I remember is waking up with EMTs hanging over my head, telling me that my life was just saved and revived by Narcan. Unfortunately, I felt very angry at the time. You think I’d be grateful, but I was angry, I was displeased with my life and where I was at.”

However, it was the ride to the hospital where he was motivated to make a change.

“I was in the ambulance on the way to the hospital,” he said. “I remember clenching my fists in anger, like resentment at the world and then, something just came over me and I just opened my palms up and I just took a deep breath and I was like, ‘Man, I give up. I can’t do this anymore.’ At that moment, I just surrendered.”

He then decided to seek recovery.

Last Thursday, he graduated from Widener University with a master’s degree. He works as a substance abuse counselor at MVP Recovery after having gone through its Sober Living program.

“I work with law enforcement and police to help people who are struggling with addiction access treatment,” Waibel said. “Life could never be more full. I couldn’t imagine this in my most wildest dreams ... But it was the Narcan that allowed me one more day of life that I could surrender to the addiction and pursue services, pursue help and receive that help.”

A community need

Delco Revive is funded through $137,286 of Delaware County’s allotment of opioid settlement funds.

Delaware County is on schedule to receive nearly $63 million over 18 years from settlement funds stemming from the opioid distributors litigation. Earlier this year, the county council unanimously approved disbursing $4.1 million for 14 programs in the second round of the settlement funding.

“This is a program that is helping the entire community,” Delaware County Council Chair Dr. Monica Taylor said of Delco Revive. “After all, we know that opioid addiction affects residents of all ages, races and genders from throughout the county and all across the country. Addiction has no boundaries.”

Lyon said she wants the program to destigmatize conversations around substance use disorders and to focus on finding help and recovery options.

One way to reduce the stigma, she said, is by having everyone carry Narcan nasal spray.

“Carrying Narcan and Naloxone is not only about saving the lives of people we know,” Lyon said. “It’s about having tools available to save a life of somebody at any time. That is why we say, ‘Be a good friend, be a good neighbor, be a good stranger.’”

Another is to understand a person can’t get in trouble for administering Narcan or taking other lifesaving action, as it is covered by the Good Samaritan law, which protects anyone trying to render emergency care, first aid or rescue.

With county officials having stated that four county residents die each week related to opioids, Lyon said it’s likely everyone knows someone who’s struggled with substance abuse.

“We all know of someone whether it’s a family member, a sibling, a friend, a colleague,” she said. “We’ve all been touched by this in some way ... And, if there’s anything I hope for you to take away today ... is that there is hope.

“Even when it seems unlikely, recovery is possible for everyone because if you have hope, you have a chance,” she said. “If you have a chance, you have a life. Narcan gives the gift of one more day of life.”

(c)2024 Daily Times, Primos, Pa.
Visit Daily Times, Primos, Pa. at
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.