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Pa. probation officers to carry life-saving drug

According to the release, more than 150 lives have been saved

By John Joyce
The York Dispatch

YORK, Pa. — York County probation officers will soon begin carrying the life-saving drug naloxone, a medication that counteracts the effects of opiate-based drugs and can stop a potentially fatal heroin overdose when administered in time.

The move comes a year after all other county law enforcement agencies were equipped with the drug, according to a news release issued by the York County District Attorney’s OfficeWednesday. School police officers as well will be issued naloxone, called Narcan, the pharmaceutical brand nasal-spray form of the drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

According to the release, more than 150 lives have been saved since York County officers began carrying the drug a year ago.

The probation officers — who must first take an online course and become certified in administering the drug — will carry naloxone when conducting home visits on the more than 13,500 juvenile and adult probationers whom they supervise.

Director of Probation Services April Billet-Barclay, quoted in the release, said the move “only makes sense.”

“It is essential for probation officers to have access to this tool in the fight against the disease of opiate addiction,” she said.

Naloxone works by blocking the opioid receptors in the brain and temporarily restores breathing to someone in the midst of an overdose, according to the news release. The drug is not addictive and its only use is countering the effects of an opioid overdose.

Cost: The purchase price of the drug will not be passed on to the taxpayers, the news release said. The Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association and Capital BlueCross have picked up the tab.

York County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Kyle King said it is a good idea to put naloxone in the hands of as many people as possible.

“Why not give them the ability to save a life,” King said.

Copyright 2016 The York Dispatch