Seneca EMS joins state’s ‘Leave Behind’ program to combat overdose
Seneca Area EMS has joined the campaign to combat opioid overdoses and will leave behind naloxone nasal spray with family members of drug abusers.
Seneca is housed along Main Street in Sharpsburg and serves the borough and Indiana Township.
Spearheaded by Sharpsburg Councilman Jon Jaso and Seneca Chief Bill Alexander, the program follows in the steps of other first responders statewide that responded to Gov. Tom Wolf’s declaration earlier this year that opioid addiction is a state emergency.
“We believe that if we can save an addict’s life, it gives them the chance to finally seek treatment,” Seneca Assistant Chief Marty Allen said.
“It benefits not just them, but their loved ones, friends and our community as a whole.”
The program allows emergency responders to leave naloxone, an antidote for opioid overdose, with patients who have been treated at a scene but refuse to go to the hospital.
“The intent is that the family or friends of that patient can use the antidote in the event of a subsequent overdose to help minimize the possibility of their death while awaiting EMS arrival,” Allen said.
Jaso, an Allegheny County 911 dispatcher, has seen an explosive increase in the number of calls related to drug overdoses in recent years.
He believes the program gives hope to families.
“Hopefully they can prevent the next tragedy,” Jaso said. “Long-term treatment is the only real chance that most people have and if they are given that chance, it might help someone get into treatment.”
The program operates in conjunction with the county health department.
Foxwall EMS, which serves Aspinwall and Fox Chapel, joined the program in January. Commander Josh Worth said it is his job to focus on the medical care of addicts, not the stigma surrounding the disease.
The “leave behind” program is not mandated and there are many critics, Allen said.
Still, her crew members believe that it reflects Seneca’s mission of protecting lives.
Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121 x1512, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .