Delaware State Senate passes first responder immunity bill

Just  four minutes. That's all the time a person who's stopped breathing can go without oxygen before the brain begins to die. And for a person who's overdosed on heroin paramedics sometimes can't get to them in time.

In Delaware the state senate has passed a huge bill  that's giving the boys in blue and other first responders the green light to administer the life saving drug narcan without hesitation. 

"I think it's a great thing that's out there it's definitely going to be something that's going to help save lives," said paramedic Kevin Imhof.

Imhoff has seen his fair share of drug overdoses and has used naloxone,otherwise known as narcan, to revive patients more times than he can count.

"Anywhere between 3, 5 or more sometimes each day," said Imhoff.

Narcan has saved thousands of lives, but few first responders in the state of Delaware were permitted to administer the drug due to accountability issues. That is…until now.

"It's a measure to streamline our immunities for public safety personnel first responders, firefighters, paid or unpaid,"said Republican Senator for the seventh Senatorial District Anthony Delcollo.

On Monday the Delaware State Senate released a bill that would provide immunity for first responders who administer naloxone to a person who is believed to be suffering from a drug overdose.

"This change importantly will allow them to deliver lifesaving medications without having to worry about am I going to make an honest mistake, am I going to be subjected to an unwarranted lawsuit," said Delcollo.

"I was a fireman for 30 years with the Harrington fire company and we saw how hesitant folks were when they went out on the scene to use medication," said Republican Senator for the 15th Senatorial District David Lawson.

Originally some fire departments in Delaware including Wilmington's Fire Department were not permitted to carry the life saving drug due to the vagueness in the law where it was unclear if paid fire services would be held responsible if anything were to go wrong.

"I'm unaware of any specific lawsuit that's been brought but that doesn't that it can't occur And that concern was one of the things that contributed to folks saying maybe we shouldn't do this and we decided we should remove that roadblock," said Delcollo.

"For law enforcement I'm sure it's a big piece of mind for them to know that hey even if I give this to somebody and they come back on me I'm not really going to be at fault because I had the good intent of trying to save their life," said Imhof.

And officials add that the quicker someone is administered narcan the more time it buys for EMTs and paramedics to help save the patient. 

First responders are applauding the state of Delaware and the legislators on their effort, and say it's very forward thinking.

Categories: Delaware, Local News