Assembly Judiciary Committee members voted 7-0 Tuesday to approve a bill that would put a life-saving antidote in the hands of first-responders to prevent drug overdose deaths.
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Senate Bill 1438, authored by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, would ensure that firefighters, police officers and other first responders are equipped with naloxone — an antidote that can reverse prescription painkiller and heroin overdoses.
“I think anything that we can give first-responders to help save lives, we need to do,” Cary Quashen, founder of Action Family Counseling in Santa Clarita. “Way too many people are dying from opiate related deaths and if first responders can help save lives, I think that’s a very good thing.”
The bill would require that naloxone be carried by all first responders with basic emergency medical certification, such as firefighters and lifeguards. It would authorize, but not require the antidote to be carried by police and other law enforcement officers.
“I absolutely think that all first-responders should have it,” said Krissy McAfee, parent and board member for Action Family Foundation and the Santa Clarita Blue Ribbon Task Force. “The morning 911 was called for my son, even though the paramedics got there quickly, the sheriff’s (deputies) got there first.”
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“The antidote stops the opiate and will pull the person out of the overdose immediately and then of course they have to get to the hospital immediately,” McAfee said. “It honestly has been proven in other states that it does save lives. Having paramedics and police who have access to that it really has saved a lot of lives.”
In March, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called opioid overdose deaths an “urgent public health crisis” and urged law enforcement agencies to train and equip personnel with naloxone.
At least 17 states have adopted measures to increase access to naloxone and least six have either passed or have pending legislation that explicitly authorizes first responders to carry and administer naloxone.
“Law enforcement’s No. 1 priority is to be able to save lives, and this is going to save lives the first week we put it into place,” said Captain James Bovet of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
SB 1438 is sponsored by the California Professional Firefighters and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and supported by the California State Sheriffs’ Association.
“As a trained EMT, an off-duty firefighter can administer naloxone, but in many California counties, they could be disciplined if they administered it while on duty because it’s not part of their ‘scope of practice,'” said Lou Paulson, president of California Professional Firefighters. “This makes no sense. SB 1438 closes this loophole, ensuring that patients can get the critical treatment they need.”
The bill will be heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee before it can move to the Assembly Floor.
“Prescription painkiller abuse afflicts people of all ages and backgrounds,” Pavley said. “Making naloxone available to law enforcement can prevent needless deaths and give victims a second chance to seek treatment and break their addiction.”
For more information, check out www.actionfamily.org
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Source: Santa Clarita News