Delaware County Heroin Task Force appoints two new members
Media, PA –District Attorney Jack Whelan and Delaware County Councilman Dave White introduced two new members to the Delaware County Heroin Task Force, Senator Tom Killion and Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge John Capuzzi. Formed in Sept. 2012, the Task Force is comprised of government leaders, healthcare professionals, treatment providers, law enforcement, and even a realtor to address the theft of prescription drugs from medicine cabinets during open houses.
“Together, Senator Killion and Judge Capuzzi bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table on local issues, the legislative process and the criminal justice system. Their input and partnership is a crucial part of our next steps to address addiction in taking a more collaborative, more comprehensive approach to the problem and recovery process,” said District Attorney Jack Whelan.
In April, Delaware County Council and the Heroin Task Force added another strategy to its battle against addiction through the Recovery Specialist Program. Now, when an overdose victim is taken to a hospital in Delaware County, certified recovery specialists are notified and connect that individual to treatment.
In partnership with efforts by the Delaware County Heroin Task Force, local police and emergency medical responders, there has been success in reviving overdose victims with the opioid antidote Narcan. Since Delaware County police officers were authorized to administer the life-saving drug naloxone to overdose victims in late 2014, officers have saved the lives of 260 individuals. Leaders recognize the next critical step is connecting those survivors immediately to stop the addiction cycle. The goal of the Recovery Specialist program is to continue to work with the county's seven emergency room teams to reach overdose survivors and connect them with a recovery specialist to obtain treatment.
Councilman Dave White noted that the use of Narcan by police and the recovery specialist program are only parts to the drug epidemic fight and emphasized the importance of collaboration. “We recognize that reviving an overdose victim with Narcan is not a cure all. We have to address what happens after. Treating and ending their addiction is our ultimate goal,” said Councilman White. “We attacking this epidemic through law enforcement, in emergency rooms, through education in our schools, public outreach, treatment and now working with our legislators and state officials to increase funding for treatment and ultimately reduce access to prescription drugs,” said Councilman White.
Through the mobile drug drop box program, community collections and the installation of permeant drug drop boxes at all police stations and the Government Center located in Media, more than 11,000 pounds of unused, unwanted drugs has been collected and destroyed by the District Attorney’s Criminal Investigation Division. For locations of the 40 Delaware County medicine drop boxes, visit www.co.delaware.pa.us.
Along with the law enforcement component to reduce drug-related crime, the Heroin Task Force continues to focus on prevention through education and awareness. Parents, teachers and community leaders play an important role in that effort, to educate youth about the dangers of prescription drugs. Funded by Delaware County Council, the Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education (NOPE) program has provided prevention programs to all Delaware County schools and has reached over 15,000 middle and high school students.
Those who have lost a loved one to addiction are invited to the NOPE Overdose Awareness Vigil on June 18 starting at 6:00 pm at the Upper Chichester Municipal Building located at 8500 Furey Road in Boothwyn. Delaware Councilman David White is serving as keynote speaker. There will also be words of recovery from Brandon Novak, professional skateboarder, actor, stuntman, and friend of Bam Margera from the television series “Jackass.” Attendees are asked to bring a framed photograph of their loved one to place on the remembrance table during the vigil or upload their picture to the NOPE Task Force website Memorial Wall at www.nopetaskforce.org.