Canton family inspires ‘Good Samaritan’ lawBy Canton Citizen
Representative William C. Galvin (D-Canton) is pleased to announce the passage of the life-saving “Good Samaritan” provision. This new law allows an individual to come forward in good faith to a medical professional or member of law enforcement on behalf of someone experiencing an overdose without fear of being prosecuted. It is estimated that about 27,000 people a year die in the United States from drug overdoses.
Galvin first filed the Good Samaritan bill in 2009 on behalf of the Knochin family of Canton, and in honor of their son, Joshua Knochin, who passed away from a suspected drug overdose in September of 2003 at the age of 19. His mother, June, read about Good Samaritan laws in other states and wondered why one did not exist in Massachusetts. This inspired her to write a letter to Galvin with the idea, and the representative sponsored the bill for the family.
“No parent should have to experience the loss of a child due to drugs,” said Mrs. Knochin. “While I may never know whether the Good Samaritan law would have prevented Joshua’s death or not, my thinking was this: If it could save just one life, it’s worth it. My family and I are grateful for Representative Galvin and his efforts on this matter.”
“Too often, victims of drug overdose could have been saved if an ambulance had been called, but fear of prosecution has prevented bystanders from getting help,” said Galvin. “Families should not have to suffer a loss because people are too scared to call 911. I am grateful that the Knochin family approached me with this idea, and I am hopeful that this new law will save lives.”
This provision was attached to the crime bill, better known as Melissa’s Bill, which was recently signed into law by Governor Patrick. In addition to exempting someone from prosecution who in good faith seeks help for someone who is overdosing, it also allows for the dispensing of Naloxone and other opioid antagonists. When administered, these drugs can stop a fatal overdose. It is estimated that 3,859 people died from an opiate overdose in Massachusetts between 2002 and 2008.
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