May 17, 2016
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paul Jarvey (508) 368-7241
WORCESTER — Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. announced a billboard campaign today to raise awareness of the Good Samaritan Law and urge people to call 911 if they witness a drug overdose.
“We want people to know that they will not be charged with drug possession if they call for help,” Mr. Early said. “Our goal is to save lives.”
The Good Samaritan Law was implemented in August 2012 because drug users were sometimes reluctant to call 911 when witnessing an overdose for fear of being charged with drug possession.
The billboards, which have already begun appearing and will run through the end of next month, say: “It’s not a crime to save a life. Don’t run. Call 911.” They are in both English and Spanish.
The billboards will be located at highly visible locations in Worcester and surrounding communities as well as the Fitchburg-Leominster area.
Funds for the billboards were allocated by the Legislature and approved by Gov. Charlie Baker who held a press conference today to announce a state-wide “Make the Call” campaign.
Mr. Early praised Gov. Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Public Safety Daniel Bennett and Attorney General Maura Healy for the campaign and for their ongoing leadership in the fight against addiction and opioid abuse.
The opioid crisis has taken a huge toll in Massachusetts, resulting in 1,379 unintentional overdose deaths in 2015, according to the state Dept. of Public Health. There were 177 deaths in Worcester County.
In response to the crisis, Mr. Early formed the Central Mass. Opioid Task Force last year.