PITTSBURGH, PA (Aug. 7, 2015) The use of Narcan is still permitted to be carried and used by trained City of Pittsburgh medic and fire personnel, despite erroneous announcements by Public Safety officials today.
Narcan, which is an effective drug for reversing overdoses from heroin and other opiates, was placed on Bureau of Fire vehicles for the first time this morning. The Peduto administration was contacted by the leadership of the paramedics union about the placement soon after, and administration officials asked for background details from the Public Safety Director. Administration officials also asked the Law Department to review the use of Narcan in relation to labor agreements and state law.
At no time did administration officials call for Narcan to be removed from fire vehicles; approved and trained fire personnel are still allowed to use the drug to combat overdoses, and it will be carried on Bureau of Fire trucks.
Erroneous messages were issued to Bureau of Fire personnel today mischaracterizing the administration's orders.
At 10:54 a.m. today Chief of Staff Kevin Acklin issued an email to Mayor William Peduto, Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar and others saying he had been contacted by the paramedics union, which was asking about the use of Narcan on fire vehicles.
In a series of replies Director Bucar responded that its usage was allowed by state law, and Mr. Acklin asked for legal reviews of labor agreements and state law. Solicitor Lourdes Sanchez Ridge assigned the matter to a deputy for review.
At 12:59 p.m. the Public Safety Director issued this email to the Fire Chief's office:
In light of Mr. Acklin's concerns, I want to suspend issuing the Narcan to any of our firefighter crews pending the Law Department's opinion. Confirm receipt.
Soon after the following order was issued to the full Fire Bureau from
an acting chief:
Effective immediately, per the Mayor's orders, the Battalion Chiefs are to collect all the Narcan units in the field and return them to Fire headquarters.
The Peduto administration learned of the incorrect orders late in the day and reversed them. The Narcan units are permitted for usage by fire and other Public Safety personnel who are trained in their use.
The legal review of the related contract and state law matters is ongoing. Administration officials will also continue talks with fire and paramedic union leaders on the issue.