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OPioid/Heroin reversal (Naloxone) 

David's Law - Opioid Overdose Reversal ACT 139

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in deaths resulting from heroin and prescription opioids.  This epidemic has spread across Pennsylvania as currently one in four families struggle with a substance abuse problem.  According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), in 2015 there were at least 3,383 overdose deaths, approximately 9 deaths per day in Pennsylvania alone. This does not include many other drug-related deaths from accidents, diseases, medical complications and suicides.  Among people 25 to 64 years old, drug overdose causes more deaths than motor vehicle traffic crashes. The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) is working to help reverse these horrifying trends and help our citizens who struggle with addiction. The enactment of ACT 139 - "David's Law"- provides first responders, friends and families access to naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal medicine that will save lives and hopefully lead an individual toward the substance abuse treatment they need.

What is ACT 139?

Act 139  (PDF) is a law that allows first responders (law enforcement, fire fighters, EMS) 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. More information about naloxone can be found on our Naloxone FAQ page.

What does this mean 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.

What are the benefits for first responders?

As first responders, Act 139 provides 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. In fact, some law enforcement agencies boast significant improvements in community relations, including but not limited to increased community cooperation and information sharing in regards to other investigative efforts.

What does this mean for members of the community?

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. Pennsylvania's Physician General has written standing orders for the general public to be able to obtain naloxone without a prescription from their doctor. Although not necessary in order to obtain the medication it is recommended that individuals receive training to recognize the signs and symptoms of an overdose and to learn how to properly administer naloxone.

What is the 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 supress he 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.

Department of Health Approved Trainings

Department of Health licensed EMS agencies and certified EMS providers - Training will be provided through the Department of Health’s Learning Management System.

Law enforcement/fire departments/other persons not currently licensed by the Department of Health

  • Training For Law Enforcement Officers By Law Enforcement Officers -- The state-of-the-art training from raining For Law Enforcement Officers By Law Enforcement Officers -- The state-of-the-art training from PA Virtual Training Network on Naloxone can aid every law enforcement agency and professional in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In order to access PAVTN.net, you must be registered as a member of the site. Typically, officers are registered by their departments to complete courses.
  • Friends, Family and non-licensed, non-certified first responder agencies and providers - Visit GetNaloxoneNow.org or PAVTN - Other First Responders and General Public.  
  • For Chester County Law Enforcement Only, visit Good Fellowship Ambulance and EMS Training Institute