March 22, 2017
Letters/Bucks County Courier Times
8400 N. Bristol Pike
Levittown, PA 19057
Situated among the obituaries of a 91year old inventor and 77 year old journalist, was the account of a young women’s deadly heroin addiction shared by her mom. Although the family was from the Pittsburgh area, the piece appeared in a recent edition of the Intelligencer and Bucks County Courier Times. Casey Marie Schwartzmier was just 20 years old when she lost her battle with addiction. After seeing a link on Facebook to an obituary written by a parent who lost their child to addiction, Casey said to her mom, “I thought of you as soon as I saw it because I could see you writing an amazing obituary.”
Similar stories of friends, neighbors and loved ones caught in the battle of addiction, like Casey and her mom’s, prompted the Bucks County Association of Township Officials (BCATO) to hold panel discussions on the Opioid/Heroin epidemic with local leaders in communities throughout the county. Appropriately titled, YES, IN YOUR BACKYARD! The Opioid & Heroin Crisis Hits Home, has been well received by community members. We are grateful to have the unflinching support of Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub, Diane Rosati, Executive Director, Bucks County Drug and Alcohol as well as our state representatives, law enforcement and first responders.
Once concentrated in cities, opiates are now widely used by men and women who live in suburban areas such as Bucks County. As township supervisors we have an obligation to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the township. We have supported the decision of law enforcement to carry Naloxone. We supported Prescription Drug Take Back Days and permanent drop boxes in our municipal buildings that have aided in the collection of 40 tons of unused prescription drugs- keeping them out of the hands of individuals with the intent to misuse.
Our local rescue squads are on the front line. The Levittown-Fairless Hills Rescue Squad ended 2016, with a total of 271 OD calls and 35 OD deaths. The first heroin related death of 2017 occurred on January 5 in Buckingham Township. Bucks County Coroner Joseph Campbell reported 140 cases involving drug overdoses with opioids present in at least 75% of the cases with more pending. Upper Bucks, Central Bucks, Lower Bucks- the rise in heroin and opioid abuse has no geographic boundaries, crosses all socioeconomic groups, all ages, all races.
BCATO panel discussions have provided valuable insight into the resources available through Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission, Inc. and commitment from law enforcement at all levels including Matt Weintraub, Bucks County District Attorney. BCATO will continue to address the heroin/opioid epidemic and work with our county, state and federal officials. We are engaged on many aspects of the issue including the Commonwealth’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, similar federal programs, exploring public – private partnerships, and closely monitoring recent gains in addiction treatment healthcare coverage and possible setbacks.
As stated previously, we take seriously our responsibility for the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the township. The Bucks County Association of Township Officials will continue collaborating with community stakeholders, officials at all levels of government and private sector interests in our effort to address this crisis. This epidemic may be grabbing national headlines but sadly, it’s what we read in the local obituaries we find most troubling. Our hometowns, our communities are in crisis. Bucks County Association of Township Officials remains steadfast in our commitment to address this crisis.
Daniel Rattigan, President Stacey Mulholland, Vice President
Bucks County Association of Township Officials Bucks County Association of Township Officials
Dan serves as Chairman of the Upper Makefield Township Board of Supervisors
317 Mill Race Lane
Newtown, PA 18940
M: 267 614 9592
Stacey serves as Vice Chairwoman of the Plumstead Township Board of Supervisors
4501 Scenic View Circle
Doylestown, PA 18902
M 215 669 4815