HEROIN: What you need to know about Pennsylvania’s Good Samaritan Law

Senate Bill 1164 was signed into law by the governor in late September as Act 139 of 2014

Landmark legislation passed during the 2013-14 Legislative Session now allows first responders, including law enforcement, fire fighters, EMS or other organizations the ability to administer a medication known as naloxone, a life-saving opioid-overdose antidote.

The law also allows individuals such as friends or family members who might be in a position to help a person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose to obtain a prescription for naloxone. Additionally, Act 139 provides immunity from prosecution for those responding to and reporting overdoses.

In order for a first-response agency to obtain, carry and administer naloxone, any agency that is not licensed by the Department of Health must first enter into a written agreement with an emergency medical services agency. Additionally, those non-licensed first-responder agencies must also complete a Department of Health approved training and obtain a prescription or standing order to obtain and administer naloxone. Click here for more information.

Members of the community, family members and friends may also be prescribed naloxone and can lawfully administer the drug to someone who is experiencing an overdose. This was included in the law because often times when an overdose occurs, friends and family are the first on the scene. A prescription for naloxone may be obtained through a physician. Before administering, you should first complete Department of Health approved naloxone training.

Additionally, the new law provides immunity to those individuals who act in good faith and with reasonable care to administer naloxone to someone they believe is experiencing an opioid overdose, as long as they have taken the approved training and seek prompt medical care. Click here for more information.

Through the Good Samaritan provision of Act 139, friends and loved ones are encouraged to call 911 for emergency medical services in the event an overdose is witnessed. The provision offers certain criminal and civil protections and provides reassurance to the caller that they cannot get in trouble for being present, witnessing and reporting an overdose.