The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Public Health announced sustained funding for naloxone for first responder agencies statewide.

For the first time in 2018, $100,000 in state funding was built into DPH’s budget to fund the purchase of naloxone. Previously, funding for naloxone was piecemeal, using funds from DHSS’s Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health and the Department of Justice’s State Law Enforcement Allocation Fund. In the absence of these funds, individual fire or police companies, or even county governments, scrambled for the resources to purchase naloxone.

To supplement the new state funds, DPH was awarded $538,000 per year for the next four years to purchase naloxone and support other programs for first responders. The funds come from a grant awarded by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“We continue to lose too many of our loved ones and neighbors to the addiction epidemic,” said Gov. John Carney. “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 showed that 345 people died in Delaware in 2017 from an overdose. In 2018, 226 people have died of suspected overdoses as of Oct. 15.

“Our goal is for every first responder to be carrying naloxone,” said DPH Director Karyl Rattay, “from law enforcement to campus security, from firefighters to ambulance crews. 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. Originally the program, which began in 2014, was available only to law enforcement. Currently, 30 law enforcement agencies have signed agreements with and received training through OEMS to administer the medication as part of the voluntary program. In 2017, first responders administered 2,861 doses of naloxone, compared to 2,341 in 2016.

DHSS Secretary Kara Odom Walker was present in June as Carney signed legislation to expand the definition of first responders, enabling more of them — including police, firefighters, EMS personnel, lifeguards, park rangers, constables and security guards — to administer the medication to an individual whom the responder believes is undergoing an opioid-related drug overdose. With the expanded legislation, Wilmington Fire Department is also participating in the Naloxone Administration Program, and Walker said she hopes more will soon follow.

“We are so grateful for the support of our federal delegation in providing additional dollars to help us put naloxone in the hands of as many people as possible,” said Walker. “Equipping more of our trained first responders with this medication to reverse the life-threatening overdose gives us another opportunity to connect that person to the resources that will help lead them to a life in recovery.”

The legislation also extends liability protection for those mentioned above who administer naloxone in good faith and maintains that liability protection for the layperson who provides emergency care in good faith as well.

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