Ethan Healey hasn’t personally faced addiction but he’s seen the effects of an opioid overdose as the nation’s heroin epidemic expands. As an EMT with Good Fellowship Ambulance in West Chester, he has had to administer Naloxone (Narcan), the “miracle” medication that can immediately reverse the effects that heroin and certain prescription pain drugs have on the body.
In less than two years, more than 110 people in Chester County had Healey to thank for saving their lives, even though he was not present. As manager of Project Naloxone, Healey is responsible for distributing more than 400 Narcan kits to police departments in the county and for training more than 700 police officers – including West Chester University Public Safety officers – to use them in overdose situations. For his initiative, he became the first recipient of the Chester County Association of Township Officials President’s Award for Meritorious Service.
Service is in the DNA for this full-time WCU business management major. Following his father, who retired a year ago from the Pennsylvania State Police, he has applied to the PSP. His mother is a retired Army captain.
Project Naloxone also reaches community members. Good Fellowship has partnered with Chester County Department of Drug and Alcohol Services to offer free education and training sessions for the public. “Many of those who take the course have addicted children or have lost family members to addiction and overdose,” Healey says.
Prior to the implementation of Act 139 in 2014, a person who called 911 to report an overdose victim risked prosecution for drug offenses. Healey worked with legislators to give members of the public access to Narcan and to assure that Good Samaritan laws protect individuals who administer it. And since the most common way to administer Narcan is as a nasal spray, now almost anyone can save a life.
Healey is in his second year serving on Good Fellowship’s board. He’s also a full-time telecommunications officer with the West Goshen Police Department and says he completes some of his schoolwork during down time on the 3 to 11 p.m. shift. He calls Project Naloxone “part of my stress relief.”
Next, Healey plans to expand by getting Narcan kits into high schools. A pilot is underway with three in Chester County (Avon Grove, Conestoga, and Oxford Area).