HARRISBURG – Sept. 4, 2018 – Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) wrote a letter to Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine requesting a new training program for the state’s first responders who may be exposed to synthetic opiates while treating overdose patients.

Fentanyl and other dangerously potent synthetic drugs are being mixed with other illegal, which often puts first responders at risk when treating overdose patients, Senator Hughes wrote in a letter to the secretary, adding that first responders may be at risk of exposure to these dangerous drugs because of touch, inhalation or other bodily contact. Senator Hughes is requesting a training or education program that could be easily accessed and widely utilized by first responders throughout the Commonwealth to train them on the dangers of exposure to synthetic opiates and the best practices to protect them from unnecessary exposure.

“The DEA, Attorney General and local law enforcement agencies have moved aggressively to combat the sale and spread of synthetic opiates and drugs laced with them,” Senator Hughes wrote. “As such, the Commonwealth should also take aggressive steps to protect the lives of those individuals who often come into direct contact with synthetic opiates laced drugs.”

While some organizations have training in place, there is no uniform policy for first responders across Pennsylvania. Following standardized safety recommendations, such as the one created by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, would be a beneficial, proactive step to protect men and women who put their lives on the line to save others, Senator Hughes said. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has also recommended first responders receive training or education on the dangers of synthetic opiates.

“A step as simple as this training or additional education will allow our first responders to continue battling the opioid epidemic on the front lines, while helping to decrease any worry they may have as to the possibility of what an exposure could have to their own health and well-being,” Senator Hughes wrote, also thanking Secretary Levine for her consideration of the proposal.

The full letter can be read on Senator Hughes website.