York County firefighters to carry, administer Narcan

MOUNT WOLF, Pa. -- Firefighters in York County are joining in the fight against the heroin and opioid epidemic.

Up until now, if firefighters were first on a scene, they had to wait until either police or EMS arrived to administer the overdose-reversal drug, Narcan.

Now firefighters will also be able to carry and administer Narcan.

Audrey Gladfelter, an administrator for York/Adams Drug and Alcohol Commission, said, "I'm excited to be able to say that this is the first medication that they're going to be able to carry."

The York/Adams Drug and Alcohol Commission is partnering with Adept Pharma to pay for fire departments to provide Narcan to their firefighters.

Gladfelter said, "York City Fire Department is actually on scene first for overdose victims 95 percent of the time. So we realized it was critical to get Narcan into the hands of all the fire departments in York County in order to prevent unnecessary overdose deaths."

York City fire officials already carry Narcan through funding from another grant, and now other departments in the county will join them through this program.

York City Deputy Fire Chief Chad Deardorff said, "We have a job to protect and serve the public, and that's, you know, that's part of it. It's not just fires. Fire services have become an all-hazards type of environment."

West Manchester Township Fire Department will be the first department to use the Narcan with this new program, starting Tuesday.

Clifton Laughman, the West Manchester Township fire chief, said, not only will firefighters carry the Narcan spray, they will have other ways to help victims.

"We have literature that we're going to give the families to help them cope with it, help the patient cope with it, and then we can also leave a dose with the family. So that if they would have another episode or overdose the family could administrate that to them, and it'd be a little quicker help to them," Laughman said.

Officials said even if they can't stop the problem completely, they're doing what they can to help slow it down.