For Immediate Release - May 17, 2016

Baker-Polito Administration and Attorney General’s Office Launch Statewide Campaign to Highlight Importance of Calling 911 During an Overdose

911 Good Samaritan Law protects people who try to get help

BOSTON -- Today at the State House, Governor Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey unveiled a new public information campaign to encourage people to call 911 for emergency medical services at the first signs of a drug overdose.  Along with Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, Department of Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel and members of the law enforcement community, state officials launched the $250,000 Make the Right Call campaign to promote the Massachusetts 911 Good Samaritan Law. 

This law provides protection to individuals seeking medical assistance for themselves or someone else experiencing a drug-related overdose, including opioid-related overdoses, without the risk of charges of possession of a controlled substance.

“With nearly four people dying per day from opioid-related overdoses, our administration is pleased to introduce another campaign to raise awareness and help more people get access to the treatment and services they need,” said Governor Baker.  “I am pleased to stand with the Attorney General and members of the law enforcement community to unveil the Make the Right Call campaign as another tool aimed at curbing this horrific public health crisis from our communities.”

The goal of the new campaign is to save lives by increasing the use of 911 in overdose situations.

Make the Right Call targets active users of opioids and their friends and families with a simple message that they shouldn’t be afraid to seek help when they see an overdose. The campaign includes billboards, and advertisements on street furniture and other public environments where overdoses can take place. Viewers are directed to the website for more information on what to say when calling 911, what to do while waiting for help to arrive, and where they can access the overdose reversal tool Naloxone, more commonly called Narcan.

The use of naloxone has risen quickly over the past three years. In 2015, there were over 9,000 incidents during which emergency responders utilized naloxone; up from 5,443 in 2013.

“The Good Samaritan law removes a key barrier that prevents people from seeking help in an overdose emergency,” said Attorney General Maura Healey. “No one should die because a friend or stranger is too afraid to call 911. Our goal is to educate people about this law because nothing is more important than saving a life. We will continue to partner with law enforcement and the Administration to make sure this important message is heard.”

Additionally, the Department of Public Health and the Attorney General’s Office have partnered to produce a special “Roll Call video” which explains the importance of the 911 Good Samaritan Law to members of the law enforcement community, who play such a key role in responding to overdose situations and saving lives. The five-minute video features public safety officials who have seen the positive impact of the Massachusetts 911 Good Samaritan Law, and also includes the compelling testimony of one Massachusetts resident whose life was saved because of a 911 call – and who is now in long-term recovery. The Roll Call Video will be shared with public safety partners in every police department in Massachusetts.

"Opioid abuse is a medical disease, and an epidemic,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “As such, we must treat it like an illness with prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery options for everyone. The Good Samaritan law plays a critical role in allowing people to treat an overdose as they would another sudden medical illness---by calling for medical help when it is needed most.”

Make the Right Call also includes a grass-roots component to spread the word. Posters which feature the campaign messaging can be ordered at no charge by municipal agencies, community organizations, churches, businesses and others by visiting the Massachusetts Health Promotion Clearinghouse.

"The opioid epidemic continues to impact families, friends, and neighbors in every corner of Massachusetts," said Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel. "We must continue to do everything in our power to save lives, and stem the rate of opioid deaths."

Campaign advertising will run through the end of June. More information about Make the Right Call can be found at the Make the Right Call website.