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Pitt and Saint Joseph’s University Train First Responders to Prevent Opioid-Related Deaths

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Asher Jones
Manager, Science Writing

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PITTSBURGH — The University of Pittsburgh and Saint Joseph’s University, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, are offering continuing education to first responders to prevent opioid overdoses and deaths in the commonwealth.

The Pitt School of Pharmacy’s Program Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) developed the Strategies to Coordinate Overdose Prevention Efforts (SCOPE) project, and Saint Joseph’s Center for Addiction and Recovery Education (CARE) developed Phoenix Training: Addiction and Connection to Treatment. Held throughout Pennsylvania, these free training sessions help first responders care for patients who either have or are at risk of substance use disorder (SUD).

“Our shared goal is to reduce overdoses and save lives,” said Brenda Hall Sciulli, deputy director of PERU. “The partnership with Saint Joseph’s ensures we can reach and educate first responders in every county in Pennsylvania.”

The SCOPE and Phoenix Training curricula include understanding SUD as a disease, how a person may acquire SUD and the difficulty of overcoming substance use. The programs define the intersection of SUD and trauma and provide practical strategies to help patients, including the provision of naloxone and referral to local drug and alcohol treatment services. Since August 2020, 1,230 law enforcement officers in 34 counties have received Phoenix Training, and 981 first responders in 33 counties have received SCOPE training.

Continuing education credits are provided through the Department of Health Bureau of Emergency Medical Services or the Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission.

First responders or first responder agencies interested in attending sessions may register at SCOPE Statewide or Saint Joseph’s University CARE. Additional information is available on the Pennsylvania Department of Health First Responder Addiction and Connection to Treatment (FR-ACT) website.