Penn. First Responders Aim to Lower Overdose Death Counts
The Daily Item, Sunbury, Pa.
Jan. 22—DANVILLE—Montour County was number one in Pennsylvania last year for the number of fatal drug overdoses per 100,000 people.
County Deputy Coroner Dr. Terrance Lynn put that number out there on Sunday at a naloxone training session for first responders held at Geisinger's Henry Hood Center.
The 16 opioid overdose deaths in 2017 in the county population of just over 18,500 equals 87 such deaths per 100,000. That's a 400 percent increase over 2009, according to data from the coroner's office.
Those number were an impetus for the training on naloxone, which reverses the effects of opioids.
"Unfortunately, most of these overdoses (12) are people that had prescriptions," Lynn said.
Most of the deaths were accidental.
Lynn said two people in Montour County would not have died in 2017 if they had been administered naloxone.
Lynn and co-coordinator of Sunday's program, fellow Deputy Coroner Angela Miller, are training first responders such as police, firefighters, school district employees, restaurant employees and community members how to administrator the antidote, which is in a nasal spray.
Lynn told the group of about 30 why restaurants were included in the invitation to the training—though the Pine Barn Inn was the only one to respond.
"It's important to have these kits in places where people are going in and out," Lynn said.
He had participants go online on their phones to answer questions and learned some in the audience had not had medical training. But that was OK.
"I've geared this presentation toward people with no prior medical training," Lynn said.
Lynn also explained the instructions in the kits and demonstrated how to administer the nasal spray.
He said everyone in Pennsylvania has an open prescription to buy naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan. He said a dose, without insurance, costs about $30, and a kit, which includes two doses and instructions and other information, sells for about $150.
Lynn said he already had provided training and kits to the Danville police, and he and Miller said other training sessions would be scheduled.
"I think it's good training to have, especially since first responders get on the scene before the ambulance and could save someone's life," said Colleen McCollum, 21, a firefighter with the Washington Fire and Hose Company in Danville.
A lieutenant at the Washies, Danville 4th Ward Councilman Joseph Stigerwalt, said it's important to have the training to help first responders already on the scene who may be accidentally be exposed to a drug.
"If one of us goes down, we could help each other," Stigerwalt said.