How understanding ACT 139 could help save lives.
Act 139 allows first responders (law enforcement, fire fighters, EMS) or other organizations acting at the direction of a health care professional authorized to prescribe naloxone, to administer the drug to individuals experiencing an opioid overdose. The law also provides immunity from prosecution for those responding to and reporting overdoses. Additionally, individuals such as friends or family members in a position to assist a person at risk of experiencing an opioid related overdose may receive a prescription for naloxone.
What is Naloxone?
Naloxone is a medication that can reverse an overdose that is caused by an opioid drug (i.e. prescription pain medication or heroin). When administered during an overdose, naloxone blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and restores breathing within two to eight minutes. Naloxone has been used safely by emergency medical professionals for more than 40 years and has only one function: to reverse the effects of opioids on the brain and respiratory system in order to prevent death.
Information For First Responders
First responder organizations may now obtain, carry, and administer naloxone in the event of an opioid overdose. According to Act 139, a non-licensed first responder agency must first enter into a written agreement with an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agency click here to view a sample EMS Agreement. This written agreement is valid only under the consent of the EMS Medical Director or another physician.
Act 139 provides first responders with an opportunity to save lives and strengthen community relations in the process. First responder agencies across the country administering naloxone report ease of use, the satisfaction of saving lives, and subsequent improvement in community relations as a result.
Information For Community Members and Family Members
Members of the community, family members, friends, and bystanders may be prescribed naloxone and can lawfully administer the drug to someone who is experiencing an overdose. Although not necessary to receive a prescription for naloxone, we recommend training. Please visit http://www.getnaloxonenow.org to access an available training.
Good Samaritan Provision
Through the ‘Good Samaritan’ provision of Act 139, friends and loved ones are encouraged to summon emergency medical services by calling 911 in the event they witness an overdose. The law is meant to quell the fear of arrest in calling authorities for an overdose event by offering certain criminal and civil protections for those that do. Law enforcement entities in other states that have implemented Good Samaritan protections for those who dial 911 in good faith have reported significant improvements in community relations.
(information adapted from the PA Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs)