State gets more federal funding to fight overdoses

DOVER — The Division of Public Health has been awarded more than half a million dollars per year to support first responders in combating drug overdoses.

The state will receive $538,000 a year for four years from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to buy naloxone, a medication that can counteract opioid overdoses.

DPH’s budget this year also contains $100,000 to fund the purchase of naloxone.

The state previously had to rely on funds cobbled together from several sources.

“We continue to lose too many of our loved ones and neighbors to the addiction epidemic,” Gov. John Carney said in a statement. “Naloxone can give people a second chance to get medical care and be connected to resources to treat their addiction. This funding will allow more Delaware first responders to carry the medication and as a result save more lives.”

Data from the Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s Division of Forensic Science indicates 345 people died in Delaware last year from an overdose. The state is on track to surpass 400 fatal overdoses this year.

“Our goal is for every first responder to be carrying naloxone, from law enforcement, to campus security, from firefighters to ambulance crews,” DPH Director Karyl Rattay said in a statement.

“Previously, we were able to provide naloxone to law enforcement agencies on a limited basis. With both the state and federal funding now at our fingertips, we can greatly increase our distribution and saturation of this life-saving medication among agencies statewide.”

DPH’s Office of Emergency Medical Services coordinates the Naloxone Administration Program. Thirty law enforcement agencies have signed agreements with and received training through OEMS to administer naloxone as part of the voluntary program. In 2017, EMS and police administered 2,861 doses of naloxone.

Legislation allowing other first responders, including firefighters, lifeguards and park rangers, to administer the medication to an individual whom the responder believes is undergoing an opioid-related drug overdose was approved earlier this year.

“By expanding access to naloxone as widely as possible more lives will be saved. Thanks to the federal grant, countless lives will be saved over the next four years,” David Humes, a board member with the nonprofit atTAcK addiction, said in a statement.

Information on community training of naloxone, along with resources regarding prevention, treatment and recovery, are available on HelpIsHereDE.com.

First responder agencies with questions about how to joining the Naloxone Administration Program can contact the DPH Office of Emergency Medical Services at 233-1350.

 

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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