There are things that you can do as a state legislator that will save lives, and I’m sure that the typical state senator will see charts and presentations on all kinds of topics where there is an estimate of how many lives will be lost or saved by various tweaks to the budget. Rarely is it as clear cut as it is in the case of Andrew Dinniman. Because we know precisely how many doses of Naloxone (Narcan) are administered by state officials, police officers and emergency response teams, we can get a very precise count of how many lives Andy has saved.
Last fall, Dinniman pushed to pass Act 139 of 2014, legislation that allows police officers, emergency medical responders, firefighters and others to carry Naloxone (Narcan).
As a result, Chester County police officers were trained in the administration of Naloxone in December 2014. According to William Wells, Director of the Good Fellowship EMS Training Institute in West Chester, the organization has provided training to more than 600 police offers in 35 departments in Chester County and has provided funding to purchase Naloxone for every department in the county.
However, until now emergency medical responders and EMTs have been unable to carry and administer Naloxone because changes in the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Basic Life Support Protocols allowing them to do so will not officially take effect until July.
In response, Dinniman and Wells met with Acting Secretary of Health Karen Murphy and Acting Physician General Rachel Levine in April. As a result of that meeting, Dr. Levine issued written approval for Emergency Medical Responders and EMTs to proceed with carrying and administering Naloxone prior to the effective date of the new protocols.
“What Senator Dinniman did truly opened this up not only for Chester County, but for the entire Commonwealth,” Wells said.
And the count has already begun.
According to Wells, since December police officers in East Brandywine, Caln and Downingtown have each saved the life of an overdose victim by administering Naloxone.
“Twenty-four people died from heroin overdoses in Chester County in 2013,” Dinniman said. “Everyone deserves a second chance at life and at recovery. Imagine how many lives can be saved by expanding the use of this drug now rather than later.”
It’s easy to get cynical about politicians. Remember the story of Andy Dinniman when people tell you that none of them are worth a damn or make a lick of difference.