York County second highest in state for overdose reversals by Naloxone

YORK COUNTY, Pa. -- A report by the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs finds York county second highest in the state for Naloxone reversals, the drug used to reverse the effects of an overdose caused by heroine and other drugs.

Here in York, the chief says his officers respond to several overdose calls a week, and in those situations, Naloxone is helpful, but it leaves officers wondering what more needs to be done.

"There's still a negative there because the person is still addicted. They still have that disease. They're still going to go out and use again," said Chief Wes Kahley with York City Police Department.

He says of those 365 saves, some are repeat users, who his officers see more than once. "They're frustrated sometimes because when you save the same person multiple times, you want to see that person go get help and help themselves."

This leads to a discussion with the chief -- if overdose reversals are so high, is there a bigger problem in York County? He would say yes, but its not just centered around heroin use. "I think there needs to be a lot more discussion, a lot more movement on how we can deal with peoples pain when they're having surgery, when they're in car accidents," Chief Kahley explained.

According to the chief, his officers administer Naloxone to another vulnerable group: recovering addicts. "Where they've had a break from using the drug seems to be the most dangerous time, and they relapse," he said.

A York County man sees the findings as two-fold.

"I think it's definitely a thought provoking statistic. It's one of those numbers that you think, 'Do we attract more users because it's a safer environment for them to use?' At the end of the day, you got to save a life if you have the opportunity, so if Naloxone's there, you got to use it," said Joseph Kirkenir of Dallastown, who works in York.

It's not just in York county where Naloxone's been used by law enforcement. Lancaster and Cumberland counties also report higher overdose saves.