Effort to distribute 34,000 naloxone kits to first responders can only help

Don’t just put your money where your mouth is. Put it where your heart and mind is, too.

But most importantly put it where your government mandates are.

This year, the Legislature unanimously approved and Gov. Jim Justice signed off on SB 272. This drug policy legislation includes one initiative that requires first responders to carry naloxone pending sufficient funding.

Of course, the latter part of that mandate lets everyone off the hook if their budgets cannot cover the expense.

That bill went into effect last week undoubtedly with many first responder agencies unable to comply with a supply of the naloxone, an overdose antidote.

Over the years the Legislature passed many unfunded mandates. Most wither away for lack of money. However, this time was different.

About 34,000 naloxone kits were purchased by the Department of Health and Human Resources’ (DHHR) Office of Drug Control Policy with

$1 million in funding provided by the Legislature,

The kits — that include a 2mg naloxone syringe and atomizer — are all expected to be distributed by the end of the month by DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health.

About 7,800 doses will be distributed to the State Police, while another 8,200 is turned over the state Fire Marshal’s Office to distribute to fire departments. The bulk of the kits — about 10,000 of them — are being distributed to the EMS response crews across the state.

Another 8,000 kits are being equally divided among eight high priority counties, that include Monongalia, to be doled out to first responders.

Though the opioid epidemic drops out of the headlines quite often it is still very much the scourge it was years ago in our state.

Matter of fact, though the data for 2017 is still preliminary, it was a record year for overdose deaths in West Virginia with 909 dead. That

tops 2016’s overdose death record in West Virginia of 887.

We realize that naloxone is no cure-all for this drug crisis and many of the people revived by it often found overdosed again.

However, the chances of returning these people to productive members of society starts with helping to keep them alive.

That’s a step in the right direction to living up to one’s words.

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