DPH Announces Sustained Funding for Overdose-Reversing Medication Naloxone

DOVER – Increasing access to the overdose-reversing medication naloxone has been a key priority for the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) as state and local partners work together to develop solutions to address the opioid epidemic. In support of that, the Department’s Division of Public Health (DPH) is announcing sustained funding for naloxone for first responder agencies statewide.

For the first time this year, $100,000 in state funding was built into DPH’s budget to fund the purchase of naloxone. Previously, funding for naloxone was piecemeal, using funds from DHSS’s Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health and the Department of Justice’s State Law Enforcement Allocation Fund. In the absence of these funds, individual fire or police companies, or even county governments, scrambled for the resources to purchase naloxone.

To supplement the new state funds, DPH was just awarded $538,000 per year for the next four years to purchase naloxone and support other programs for first responders. The funds come from a grant awarded by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

“We continue to lose too many of our loved ones and neighbors to the addiction epidemic,” said Governor John Carney. “Naloxone can give people a second chance to get medical care and be connected to resources to treat their addiction. This funding will allow more Delaware first responders to carry the medication and as a result save more lives.”

Data from the Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s Division of Forensic Science showed that 345 people died in Delaware last year from an overdose. So far this year, 226 people have died of suspected overdoses.

“Our goal is for every first responder to be carrying naloxone,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay, “from law enforcement, to campus security, from firefighters to ambulance crews. Previously, we were able to provide naloxone to law enforcement agencies on a limited basis. With both the state and federal funding now at our fingertips, we can greatly increase our distribution and saturation of this life-saving medication among agencies statewide.”

DPH’s Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) coordinates the Naloxone Administration Program. Originally the program, which began in 2014, was available only to law enforcement. Currently 30 law enforcement agencies have signed agreements with, and received training through, OEMS to administer the medication as part of the voluntary program. In 2017, first responders (EMS and police) administered 2,861 doses of naloxone, compared to 2,341 in 2016.

DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker was present in June as Governor Carney signed legislation to expand the definition of first responders, enabling more of them – including police, firefighters, EMS personnel, lifeguards, park rangers, constables and security guards – to administer the medication to an individual whom the responder believes is undergoing an opioid-related drug overdose. Now with the expanded legislation, Wilmington Fire Department is also participating in the Naloxone Administration Program, and Secretary Walker hopes more will soon follow.

“We are so grateful for the support of our federal delegation in providing additional dollars to help us put naloxone in the hands of as many people as possible,” said Secretary Walker. “Equipping more of our trained first responders with this medication to reverse the life-threatening overdose gives us another opportunity to connect that person to the resources that will help lead them to a life in recovery.”

The legislation also extends liability protection for those mentioned above who administer naloxone in good faith, and maintains that liability protection for the lay person who provides emergency care in good faith as well.

Community access to naloxone has increased dramatically since 2014 when legislation was enacted making it available to the public, and in 2017 when Governor Carney signed additional legislation ensuring pharmacists had the same legal protections as doctors, peace officers and good Samaritans when dispensing the medicine without a prescription. Now many pharmacies have the medication and more friends and family members of those struggling with addiction are taking advantage of the opportunity to become trained on how to administer it in an emergency.

David Humes, of atTAcK addiction, lost his son six years ago to a heroin overdose. Humes continues to work toward increasing access to naloxone in the community. atTAck Addiction was recently awarded a grant to do that from Highmark.

“In the aftermath of my son Greg’s death I met with the investigating detective,” said Humes. “His words to me were, ‘If we had a 9-1-1 Good Samaritan Law or a naloxone law, your son might very well be alive today.’ In the ensuing days, I made a vow to Greg that I would somehow save a life in his name. The 9-1-1 Good Samaritan Law and community access to naloxone seemed to be the vehicle to honor that vow.”

Humes continued, “By expanding access to naloxone as widely as possible more lives will be saved. Thanks to the federal grant, countless lives will be saved over the next four years. atTAcK addiction is grateful to Governor Carney for including the initial funding in this year’s budget, and to DPH and OEMS for their work in getting this grant. Hopefully the state will get additional federal grants to further fund community access to this life saving medication.”

Within three to five minutes after administration, naloxone can counteract the life-threatening respiratory depression of an opioid-related overdose and stabilize a person’s breathing, which buys time for emergency medical help to arrive. DPH recommends calling 9-1-1 immediately if you find someone in the midst of a suspected overdose, starting rescue breathing, and then administering naloxone. Naloxone is not a replacement for emergency medical care and seeking immediate help and follow-up care is still vital.

Information on community training of naloxone, along with resources regarding prevention, treatment and recovery, are available on HelpIsHereDE.com.

First responder agencies who have questions about how to join the Naloxone Administration Program can contact the DPH Office of Emergency Medical Services at 302-233-1350.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.

Governor Carney Opts-In to Federal Plan to Improve Broadband Network for First Responders

Delaware’s approval allows FirstNet to move forward with plan to build communications network for emergency personnel

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney signed a letter on Friday opting into a federal First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) plan to build a wireless broadband network intended to improve communications for first responders across the State of Delaware.

The FirstNet plan would allow Delaware police agencies, fire and EMS responders to communicate more effectively by prioritizing their cellular phone calls and data requests on the network. Governor Carney’s decision to opt-in allows FirstNet to move forward in building out a broadband network that, if implemented, would allow for efficient communications among emergency responders.

“Our first responders need access to state-of-the-art technology to communicate and respond effectively during emergency situations,” said Governor Carney. “This is only a first step, but this plan has real potential to prioritize communications among law enforcement agencies, fire and EMS personnel, and help our first responders protect the lives of Delawareans across our state.”

“During a critical incident or disaster, cellular communications are of paramount importance to our first responders,” said Robert Coupe, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security. “We are excited by the opportunity presented by this FirstNet plan, which would ensure that first responders have the priority access they need to deliver emergency services to the citizens of Delaware.”

“In addition to the potential benefits opting in to FirstNet can provide to our public safety personnel, this decision also helps us to advance our priority of expanding broadband options in rural, underserved areas of our state,” said James Collins, Chief Information Officer at the Delaware Department of Technology and Information.

FirstNet is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Authorized by Congress in 2012, its mission is to develop, build and operate the first nationwide, high-speed, broadband network that equips first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities. FirstNet will build, operate and maintain a secure wireless broadband communications network at no cost to the state.



Governor Markell Proclaims National Emergency Medical Services Week (May 15-21, 2016)

DOVER – In appreciation of the service and dedication of Delaware’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel, Governor Jack Markell proclaimed May 15 – 21, 2016 as National Emergency Medical Services Week.

More than 3,300 Emergency Medical Services personnel are registered in the First State, according to the 2015 Delaware Emergency Medical Services Oversight Council (DEMSOC) report. They consist of educators, administrators, dispatchers, first responders, EMTs, paramedics, and hospital Emergency Room staff.

“EMS personnel play a critical role in our health care system by providing life-sustaining care to the ill and the injured,” said Governor Jack Markell. “They respond to calls for help 365 days per year, 24 hours a day, and in threatening weather and dangerous conditions.”

Added Delaware Health and Social Services Cabinet Secretary Rita Landgraf, “Emergency Medical Services personnel are real life heroes. Whether they are out in the field or serving at a dispatch site or providing care in a hospital, they save lives every day.”

In 2015, Delaware’s EMS personnel responded to over 209,026 calls, equating to approximately 573 calls daily, 24 calls per hour, or approximately 12 calls every 30 seconds across the state.

“Delawareans should know that EMS personnel take rigorous education and training to maintain their certification,” said Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “We thank them for consistently providing quality, professional care.”

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, drink almost no sugary beverages.

Governor Signs Law Protecting Emergency Responders from Employer Discrimination

Wilmington –  At Brandywine Hundred Fire Company, Governor Markell signed House Bill 21 and House Bill 22 today to protect volunteer emergency responders from employer discrimination or discipline stemming from their volunteer responsibilities.  The legislation, which stemmed from an incident in which a Delaware firefighter was fired by a private employer after sustaining burns to his hands while fighting a house fire, was sponsored by Representative Debra Heffernan (D-Brandywine Hundred South). Senator Harris McDowell (D- Wilmington North) was the lead Senate sponsor and a strong supporter of the bills.

“Our volunteer emergency responders are ready and willing to protect others each time a call for help comes in,” said Governor Markell. “This legislation provides them with a bit of protection in return, allowing them to focus their full attention towards ensuring the safety and well-being of those in need.”

Known as the Volunteer Emergency Responders Job Protection Act, HB 21 prevents an employer from firing or taking disciplinary action against an employee:

  • who misses up to 7 days of work while responding to a Governor-declared state of emergency,
  • who misses or up to 14 days of work while responding to a President-declared state of emergency;
  • who is absent from work due to injury sustained when acting as a volunteer emergency responder.

HB 21 signedHB 21 exempts essential state employees, members of the armed forces, members of the National Guard, hospital personnel and public utility workers.  It further provides that an employer may require a worker who misses work for the above reasons to provide proof of the emergency response or injury.

A second measure, HB 22, prohibits employers from discriminating in the hiring or discharging of any person because of that person’s membership in a volunteer emergency responder organization  (such as volunteer firefighters, volunteer EMTs and volunteer fire police, as well as ladies’ auxiliary members).

Rep. Heffernan worked with the Delaware Volunteer Firefighter’s Association and the Brandywine Hundred Fire Co. in crafting both pieces of legislation.

“We’re extremely fortunate to have friends and neighbors who volunteer as emergency responders throughout our state. They put their personal lives on hold and often put themselves at risk to protect us,” said Rep. Heffernan, D-Brandywine Hundred South. “Many of these volunteers that we rely on daily have full-time jobs in addition to being firefighters or EMTs, and those jobs enable them to volunteer on the side. We are taking reasonable steps to protect these emergency responders from employer discrimination while they are keeping us safe.”

Christiana Fire Company Chief Richard J. Perillo also played an integral role in the development of the legislation.

“The performance of firefighting and emergency medical services in Delaware comes at great personal risks to those involved. Greater risks are imposed to those that perform these duties in the volunteer capacity,” Mr. Perillo said. “These heroes save lives, improve the quality of life and educate the citizens and visitors within this great state, only to return to their places of full-time employment. In the minds of all these saviors is the ability to continue to serve and provide for a healthy and satisfying personal life. This legislation will ensure the personal security and longevity within volunteerism for the Delaware Fire Service; and these dedicated emergency responders can now rest assured that while they are providing for others, the law is providing for them.”

September 23, 2011 Governor’s Message A Life of Service – Remembering Sergeant Szczerba

In his weekly message, Governor Markell speaks to the dedication of first responders, especially remembering the service of New Castle County Police officer, Sergeant Joseph Szczerba, whose life was tragically cut short in the line of duty when he was stabbed after chasing a suspect.

“What defines you, our state’s first responders?” asked the Governor.  “ Purpose and meaning.   Strength and service.  Choosing to run towards, not away, from danger ….because it’s your job.  Because it’s your calling…..knowing all along that some may not take the time to think of the daily sacrifice you make, of the daily risks you run, or the threats you may face.”

This week, state flags were lowered to honor the life of Sgt. Szczerba, who served for 18 years on the New Castle County Police Force. On Wednesday, county officials awarded posthumous honors to Sergeant Szczerba promoting him to lieutenant.

“We grieve for his family, his friends, his fellow officers.   His death is a tragedy but his life an inspiration.  When we think of him today, and when he is remembered for years to come, let us reflect on his strength, let us recall his courage and let us answer with the clarity and conviction he commanded each day,” said the Governor.  “ The call to serve –  to work each day, to achieve in each of our own, limited lives, a measure of the difference he made is to keep this great state moving forward.  Sergeant Szczerba – we will remember you.”

About the Governor’s Weekly Message:
At noon every Friday, a new video message is posted to the Governor’s website and YouTube channel and is distributed to Delaware media outlets.   Transcripts of the messages are posted and the audio version of the Governor’s message is available on iTunes as a podcast for distribution to personal MP3 players and home computers.   The Governor’s weekly message is currently being carried on the air and posted on websites by various media outlets, and the direct link is:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGldEiN6tnQ

Constituents, media outlets and others are free to link to the Governor’s video message on YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/user/GovernorMarkell – or on his Facebook page – www.facebook.com/governormarkell – or on the Delaware State website at http://governor.delaware.gov/information/podcast_video.shtml.  All are also invited to follow him on Twitter – www.twitter.com/governormarkell – and submit ideas through http://ideas.delaware.gov

Transcript of Governor’s Message