People Applaud Governor Wolf’s Harsh Stance Against Opioid, Heroin Epidemic

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LACKAWANNA COUNTY -- Governor Tom Wolf declared Pennsylvania's opioid crisis a state emergency.

He made the announcement in Harrisburg on Wednesday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the epidemic claimed 4,600 Pennsylvania lives in 2016, and more than 5,000 last year.

"Those who we have lost are not just numbers," Gov. Wolf said. "They're mothers. They're fathers, sons, daughters, family members, neighbors, all of them contributing members of our society. They're people whose parents and grandparents I have sat with and heard how devastating this disease is for all of them. We mourn their losses, and we try to empathize with the pain most of us cannot even begin to imagine. But as we do, we understand we also have to act quickly and decisively to make sure those numbers don't continue to grow."

Under the new legislation, the state plans to establish a command center that would be staffed by various department heads and allow them to better coordinate opioid treatment and prevention.

Wolf also hopes to make Narcan, a drug that reverses an opioid overdose, more available.

Joe Moran is a paramedic for Commonwealth Health EMS, located in Scranton. He sees overdose victims from opioids or heroin on a daily basis.

“A lot of our providers, most of their day is spent dealing with overdoses and overdose deaths,” said Moran. “It's become apparent that it is one of our primary responses this day.”

Moran applauds Governor Wolf taking a harsh stance against this crisis. He says being allowed to leave an additional dose of Narcan with someone who overdosed is lifesaving.

“After we leave the scene, if the patient doesn't go for a reason, or if they come home after going to the hospital, to have an extra dose there for the family members to be able to treat them, could save a life.”

“So if someone was suffering an emergency, you would just take this device, put it up to their nostril, spray it in, so it's really very simple,” said Tom DePietro, the owner of DePietro's Pharmacy in Dunmore, as he demonstrated how to give someone a dose of Narcan.

DePietro says when customers have opioid prescriptions, he tells them he has Narcan in stock. He also warns them how dangerous opioids can be.

“Most of the customers wanted to be educated on it, and it is an epidemic, and accidents happen every day,” said DePietro.

Marty Henehan lost his daughter, Sammi, to a heroin-fentanyl overdose in April 2016.

He commends what the governor is doing.

“For him to take such an aggressive stand against it and to have that collaborative coalition almost in Harrisburg now to formulate a plan and to attack that plan, I'm really excited to see where it goes from here,” said Henehan.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society also thanked the governor and it promised to continue to work with those in Harrisburg in fighting the epidemic.

The governor says legally the state of emergency can only last 90 days, but he's prepared to extend it if need be.


  • Conservative_LH

    I have very little sympathy for junkies. They’ve gotten themselves where they are because they made their own personal choice to go there. It isn’t the taxpayers responsibility to bail these people out and it certainly isn’t going to change anything. It’s a waste of money that should have been spent on other worthy demographics like the elderly and disabled who are struggling to pay for necessary medications or the veterans who still can’t get the medical care they need and deserve. I could spend all day typing out groups who are more worthy of taxpayer support than drug addicts. In terms of how to handle the drug issue in PA, it’s simple. We need to make more worthy drug busts, leave the small town pot smokers alone and start busting the big time runners and dealers.

    We need to start arresting people making runs to Philly every week to pick up drugs and infiltrate these networks with undercover officers. We need citizens to speak up and report unusual activity. The only answer to the opioid/ heroin epidemic is to get it out of our communities.

    Oh, and let’s start with the big picture. Build the southern wall! That’s where a lot of the heroin comes in from to begin with.

  • Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions

    i hate junkies, they steal my milk money and pull my underwear up over my head

  • kareen

    Seriously? A Governor who welcomes illegals, refuses to enforce the death penalty and is now grandstanding…but not really doing anything, about opioids? Suddenly he cares to enforce laws, guess its an election year.

  • Highwaymen

    I never trusted this guy and this seems like just another money grab from the taxpayers with a politically motivated title. We know where this “epidemic” started. Lobbyists paying politicians to ease restrictions on the pill mills and the companies that supply them. Biggest racket in the world that keeps the money flowing while lives and communities are destroyed. Then they are going to act like they care? It was already too late once campaign donations were made.


    WOW,,, Williamsport makes me laugh, LOL. WHAT ABOUT THE WILLIAMSPORT DRUNKS? The most disgusting, EVIL place ever and it’s destroying the surrounding areas!

    • Conservative_LH

      I couldn’t agree more. You can thank “influx” from the 90’s for that. Williamsport used to be a nice area. It was the place to be. Now, you strap on a BPV, hit the stores you need to visit and leave before dark.

  • Under Scrutiny

    OMFG, a “command center?” REALLY!? This is walking, talking proof that the “War On Drugs” is a money machine.

    I am very sorry that people are rolling the dice with their addictions, I really am. But, I am not responsible for the meth-head’s stupidity. I am not responsible for the irresponsible doctors that can’t see a junkie in their examination room, even if they were wearing a sign around their necks. Why must MY hard-earned money be allotted to this madness? This isn’t going to turn the tide of addiction. It isn’t.

  • Dave Matichwa

    I think they should provide more nalaxone for these junkies. They need it. Make it readily available for them and lace it with fentynl. Why enable these scumbags more than they already are enabled. This is not a disease. This is and was a poor decision that they made. I have no pitty for these junkies. I hope they all get what they deserve, a cemetery plot. And oh yes I have told this to members of my own family. I really don’t care.

    • Under Scrutiny

      They should shut down every methadone clinic and every source of “treatment” for these people. Why? Because, trading methadone for heroin does nothing, whatsoever, to address the core of the addiction. ALL ADDICTS have some level of mental/behavioral/personality disorder and substance abuse is a SYMPTOM of what ails them.

      If it “hurts” to withdraw without methadone, then maybe the addict will remember that the pain, DT’s, shaking, shivering, slavering, and panic just are not worth entertaining continued drug abuse. Kicking an addiction shouldn’t ever, ever be easy or painless, and substituting one drug for another does not help or assist the addict to get to the root of that addiction.

      Wolf is an idiot and I cannot fathom how he was elected, in the first place.

      • Under Scrutiny

        AND, they should train and arm rescue units so that they cannot be “robbed” for drugs. EMS and paramedic folks go into situations that are often very, very dangerous without any means of protection – including kevlar vests.

  • Jack Irvin

    Big Pharm will never stand for this, too much profit in opiods, too many doctors and politicians getting payoffs from big Pharm, this is just Wolf grandstanding

  • SMDH

    Nothing like a Johnny-come-lately Governor. Where the have you been the last 3 years, Mr. Wolf? Given that PA ranked 4th in the nation in 2016 for drug overdose deaths, one would think the Governor would have been ahead of this much sooner. Oh wait, that’s right—there’s a re-election campaign ramping up for his second term so now when it counts for his chances to stay in Harrisburg, he is all over it. If I were Mr Henehan (sorry for your loss), I’d be pi$$ed that it took this long for Wolf to declare the state of emergency as other governors had in early 2016. This should have happened YEARS ago and those who are soft on border security need to understand that the overwhelming majority of fetanyl and fetanyl-laced drugs come over the border from Mexico as the cartels have seized the HUGE profit margins of this dangerous drug. So it’s not just a ‘drug’ issue, its also a border security issue that people need to grasp (and candidate’s record on these issues) before they pull that lever in an election booth or fill out a mail-in ballot and return softies like Bob Casey to DC; another politician who is doing little tp protect our country.

  • MMMM

    Why don’t we just enable them all so they can keep on living. No sympathy from me! They only think of themselves when they are getting high. Why should I worry about them when they don’t even worry about what they are doing to their families?

  • laura

    get ready for yet another rise in overdoses. since they started carrying it in emergency vehicles the numbers have climbed. every time they make narcan more available the users get over confident and sloppier.

  • Jay

    Drugs are a good way to thin the weak in our herd. Not everyone can live to old age, this planet is already overwhelmed by our disgusting selves. Keep them coming.

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