Helping NJ Heroin Overdose Victims [AUDIO]
A pilot program, currently operating in Ocean and Monmouth counties, that calls for police officers to carry and administer the drug Narcan to heroin overdose victims has been so successful in saving lives that it's being expanded across the Garden State.
"Not only are we equipping and training our EMTs and police officers," he said, "but New Jersey State Police began Narcan training last month, and soon every State Police patrol vehicle will be equipped with this antidote as well."
The governor said that if the state has such an ability to prevent tragedy and save lives, then it should be making use of that resource.
"Every minute counts in these types of emergency situations, and so having our law enforcement officers as well as our first responders carrying and administering this medication may mean a difference of life and death for people in our state," Christie said.
Christie also said the War on Drugs, launched 43 years ago, was a well-intentioned program that had great hope of getting results, but has proven to be an abject failure.
In dealing with heroin and other addictive drugs, the governor said people need to understand that "this is a disease, and we need to treat this disease and give folks that have it the tools to deal with it. That's why we're taking this different approach. We need to focus on this treatment because we know that for many people -- not everyone, but for many people -- treatment does work."
Acting New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman also spoke on Tuesday, and had a message of his own:
We're not going to leave anybody behind. This is a battle, this is a war and we're going to fight it on every front. One of those fronts is with people who have overdosed, and we're not going to leave that person behind. We're not going to assume that life can't be saved; we're not going to assume there's no hope."
Hoffman said the simple reality is "there's no way we're going to arrest our way out of a problem like this. We have to take a holistic approach."