LEWISBERRY — Governor Tom Wolf announced Wednesday that the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is equipping state park and state forest rangers, managers and assistant managers with life-saving naloxone to minimize opioid overdose fatalities, especially in rural settings such as state parks and state forests where police and first responders may not be readily available.
“We are announcing today that DCNR will train and equip 300 employees — state park and state forest rangers, managers and assistant managers — with the life-saving drug naloxone to minimize opioid overdose fatalities,” the Governor said.
Governor Wolf was joined at Gifford Pinchot State Park in York County for the announcement by Cindy Dunn, Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; Karen Murphy, Secretary of the Department of Health; and Jen Smith, Acting Secretary of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.
“The opioid epidemic is a health crisis that cannot be ignored,” Governor Wolf said surrounded by rangers and DCNR staff at the event. “It affects all groups and locations – urban and rural, young and old, people from all walks of life. Rural areas, including state parks and forests, are not immune to this epidemic.”
Since 2015, there have been seven drug-related deaths on DCNR lands, and more than a dozen incidents where assistance was provided related to an overdose.
DCNR oversees 121 state parks with most having assigned managers and rangers, and 20 state forest districts encompassing more than 2.2 million acres.
The Bureau of Forestry currently has 33 full-time and seasonal rangers policing those 2.2 million acres of state forestlands.
“These men and women often are the first responders when tragedy strikes among our more than 38 million state park visitors and as many as 5 million state forest visitors,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “The safety of our visitors is an important priority to DCNR. Naloxone will be an added tool in helping our state park and forest staff provide an important public service.”
“First responders across the commonwealth have saved more than 3,000 lives using naloxone,” Department of Health Secretary Karen Murphy said. “Knowing that all state park rangers will now have this medication and are trained to use it adds another opportunity for us to save lives and get people into treatment.”
DCNR enforcement officers will complete official naloxone training and maintain current certification status through the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association Training, PA Virtual Training Network.
They will carry the naloxone kits in their vehicle when in uniformed patrol status.
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