The Good Samaritan bill is headed to Governor Tom Corbett's desk, and he is expected to sign it into law. The legislation is meant to help deal with Pennsylvania's growing heroin epidemic, specifically providing help to people who are overdosing.
Calling for help
"Danny was an average guy, he was a great guy and he just made a horrible mistake," said Charlene Sciaretta. Her son Danny died from a heroin overdose ten years ago. She has been advocating for the Good Samaritan bill. "Maybe it could have saved Danny," said Sciaretta.
The bill would protect people from being prosecuted if they witness an overdose and call for help.
"Who knows if the person will actually call, but it's out there now and they won't get in trouble," said Sciaretta.
The bill also deals with Narcan. One form can be sprayed up someone's nose and stop them from overdosing. Now it's going to be in more hands that can help.
Right now paramedics can give Narcan. The Good Samaritan bill calls for all first responders, including police and firefighters, to carry the drug. It also includes family members of people who are at risk of overdosing.
"Often times we are the first people on scene when we go to overdose calls. It’s about saving the person’s life first and then dealing with the aftermath," said York City Police Chief Wes Kahley. He started advocating for it after seeing success with it in other states. "We’ve had officers go to scenes and give CPR and try to help resuscitate the person until the ambulance can get there. To me this is a very positive step forward to making sure that we have the tools we need to save the person’s life," said Chief Kahley.
"It's akin to putting a fire extinguisher in a home. We'd love to prevent the fire in the first place, but when it happens, you need to be able to respond to it," said Ted Hake, EMS Chief at York Regional Emergency Medical Services. He thinks training more people to use Narcan will save lives, but he stresses the importance of training.
"They wake up and sometimes it’s quite violent; unpleasant; they’re in instant withdrawal. So there is a great deal of caution that has to be exercised in dose, and police and firefighters need to be ready for a dangerous situation," said Hake.
Hake also has concerns about supply. "We’ve seen shortages with other emergency pharmaceuticals over the last couple of years. We’ve seen the price of Narcan go up for our agency 30% in just one year. As this becomes more popular and accepted we certainly hope the supply and the suppliers keep up with the demand," said Hake.