Pa. fire chief praises county officials for decrease in opioid deaths
Beaver Falls Fire Chief Mark Stowe said the proactive stance of county leaders has made an impact on overdose calls and, ultimately, overdose deaths
By Kate Malongowski
Beaver County Times
BEAVER COUNTY, Pa. — Fewer drug overdose deaths were reported in the first quarter of this year than in the previous two years, according to statistics released Thursday by the Beaver County coroner's office.
There were 10 deaths in the first three months of this year, said Coroner David Gabauer, versus 27 deaths in the first three months of 2017 and 16 in the first three months of 2016.
Death totals had been on the rise since 2015, with 37 overdose deaths in 2015, 102 deaths in 2016 and 82 deaths in 2017. The synthetic opioid fentanyl has been the leading cause of overdose death for the past two years.
Gabauer credited law-enforcement leaders for their hard work in curbing the number of deaths.
Emergency responders said they have also seen a decrease in overdose calls received since last summer.
"We have seen a marked reductions in the number of calls that our crews are responding to. I would like to think it's because od the work of our law enforcement," said Bill Pasquale, operations manager for Medic Rescue.
Remaining vigilant will be key in further reducing the number of overdose deaths.
"We're able to breathe a little bit and take a break from that sort of thing and focus on other issues," Pasquale said.
It's been a relief as well for Beaver Falls Fire Chief Mark Stowe, who said the proactive stance of county leaders has made an impact on overdose calls and, ultimately, overdose deaths.
"EMS, fire, police, everyone's encouraging them to get help," Stowe said. "And I think it's starting to make a difference."
Beaver County Behavioral Health and the county coroner's office have worked on prevention education programming and have supplied the opioid-reversal drug naloxone to schools, nonprofits, law enforcement and businesses.
Also, several charges of drug delivery resulting in death have been filed by the county district attorney's office, which authorities say have further deterred drug dealers from pedaling deadly synthetic opioids.
Copyright 2018 Beaver County Times