In July of 2015, due to the alarming heroin overdose epidemic, District Attorney John T. Adams initiated the "Naloxone Program" for any police departments that are willing to participate. The program gives police officers the legal right under "David's Law" Act 139, to administer the drug Naloxone to any victim of heroin and/or an opioid overdose. Naloxone is a medication that can reverse an overdose that is caused by any opioid drug (prescription paid medications or heroin). When administered during an overdose, Naloxone blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and restores breathing to the individual within two to eight minutes.
Additionally, the "Good Samaritan" provision of Act 139 encourages bystanders to summon emergency medical services by calling 911 when witnessing an overdose. The Act offers certain criminal and civil protections for those that do. The Act also allows first responders or other organizations acting at the direction of a health care professional, the authorization to administer Naloxone to individuals experiencing an overdose.
The Pennsylvania District Attorney's Association, through a grant from Capital BlueCross, reimburses the Berks County District Attorney's Office for all costs of the Naloxone purchased for every participating police department.
Initially in 2015, eight (8) Berks County Police Departments participated in the program and by the end of 2016, the program grew to twenty-two (22) participating police departments. During this time period (July 2015 to December 2016), Berks County police officers were successful in saving twenty-four (24) lives.
In 2017, every municipal police department (41 departments), the Berks County Sheriff's Department and the Berks County Probation Office participated in the program. During that year, Berks County Officers were successful in saving seventy (70) lives.
Lieutenant Nelson Ortiz of the Berks County District Attorney's Narcotics Drug Task Force coordinates the distribution of Naloxone to the participating law enforcement department and agencies.