In an effort to fight the addiction and overdose epidemic in the state of Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf recently announced that members of the Pennsylvania Capitol Police are trained to carry and administer naloxone.
The administration took the step of signing a statewide standing order for naloxone in October. In November, all 89 Pennsylvania Capitol Police officers took a half-hour mandatory online training provided by the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police to administer naloxone. This was followed up with an additional 45-minute training to familiarize officers with the use of the EVZIO Auto-injector unit, which all officers now carry.
"Many times, Pennsylvania Capitol Police officers are called upon to assist local law enforcement agencies and are the first responders on scene," said Pennsylvania Department of General Services Secretary Curt Topper in a press statement. "In a situation such as a drug overdose, the ability to administer naloxone in a timely manner can be the difference between life and death."
According to the Capitol Police, there has been a significant increase in the amount of medical emergencies involving heroin and opioid overdoses. The rise has quickly led to a public health crisis in Pennsylvania, where one in four families are impacted from the effects of substance abuse addiction. Additionally, heroin and opioid overdose are now the leading cause of accidental death in the state, killing more individuals than those involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents. In 2014, 2,400 Pennsylvanians died from drug overdoses.
"In 2014 we had one response involving a heroin overdose compared to 12 thus far in 2015," Topper added. "As a result of the rise in the number of overdose responses, the leadership of Pennsylvania Capitol Police felt it was important to get their officers trained and carrying naloxone."
The Pennsylvania Capitol Police are an accredited law enforcement agency with full arrest powers that investigates all reported crimes within its jurisdiction of state-owned properties and buildings in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Scranton. The force maintains a 24 hours a day and seven days a week presence in Harrisburg, where they also provide assistance to the city of Harrisburg Police Department and other surrounding local law enforcement agencies.