First Responder Addiction and Connection to Treatment (FR-ACT)
The FR-ACT Program is a training program within the Office of Drug Surveillance and Misuse Prevention. This program was established to ensure first responders, public safety professionals and their agencies have the tools necessary to respond and fight the opioid epidemic. Training is offered free of charge and is available in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania.
To request a training, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vision: Any individual with substance use disorder who encounters a first responder in Pennsylvania will be treated with compassion, administered naloxone as necessary, assisted with finding specialty treatment and provided with naloxone to prevent future overdose.
Mission: The mission of FR-ACT is to decrease overdose deaths and improve stigma of persons with opioid use disorder (OUD) in Pennsylvania by providing education and training to first responders and public safety professionals on the skills necessary to respond to an overdose, communicate effectively with overdose survivors, refer to treatment resources and ultimately prevent fatal overdoses.
FR-ACT trains and provides skills to first responders and public safety professionals on opioid use disorder, overdose response and related information including:
- Addiction as a chronic disease;
- Stigma reduction;
- Providing resources to overdose survivors and families;
- Naloxone use and leave-behind practices;
- Warm hand-offs and connection to treatment; and
- Safety around licit and illicit substances.
The Department of Health has contracted with Phoenix Training at St. Joseph's University and the University of Pittsburgh's Program Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU), two expert education vendors, to deliver this information across the commonwealth. See our
press release for more information.
Anyone with questions, feedback or seeking training for themselves or agency, may contact:
Help is available 24/7 for those battling substance use disorder and mental health. Call 1-800-662-4357 or visit the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Program's Website at
Mental Health in Pennsylvania offers resources from the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) for mental health. Call PA Support & Referral Helpline 1-855-284-2494.
Naloxone is a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose and is available for first responders through a
state-wide standing order, which means you do not need a prescription.
In 2017, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency launched a Naloxone for First Responders Program to increase the availability of naloxone for those most likely to interact with individuals in need of the life-saving medication. This program established Centralized Coordinating Entities (CCEs), to distribute available naloxone to first responder groups.
A primary goal of the FR-ACT Program is to assist agencies in the development and implementation of important policies and protocols related to battling the opioid epidemic in their communities. If these protocols already exist within agencies, the program will help to enhance them.
The intention of the naloxone protocol and leave-behind practice is to equip as many overdose survivors, families, loved ones and friends with this life-saving drug after the first responder leaves the scene of the incident.
Safety for First Responders
First responders are likely to come into contact with licit and illicit substances while responding to overdoses and performing other various job duties. These hazardous substances include, but are not limited to, fentanyl, carfentanyl, heroin, cocaine, cathinones and methamphetamines. Although dangerous, it is important to follow safe operating procedures and use proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when responding to incidents that may involve these substances.
Responding to emergencies is stressful and challenging work. It is essential for first responders and public safety professionals to take care of themselves in order to respond to events in the most helpful and effective way possible. There are many resources and tips for first responders to use so they can recognize and respond to stress and burnout in the most effective way:
Substance use disorder is a chronic disease that affects individuals and families all over the world and is highly stigmatized. According to research, this stigma negatively affects clinical judgements, quality of care, and treatment outcomes. Additionally, stigma and shame are primary barriers for individuals looking for substance use disorder treatment, often discouraging them from seeking and participating in recommendations from a healthcare provider or addiction professional.
Warm handoffs for opioid overdose survivors serve as a seamless transition from emergency medical care to a health entity that can connect and refer them to the appropriate specialty substance use disorder treatment. A warm handoff is conducted in-person, wherever possible, to break down barriers in communication and ensure important stakeholders are working together in their communities to effectively battle the opioid epidemic.
A primary goal of FR-ACT is to provide first responders with the skills and resources to connect individuals to treatment and conduct a warm handoff to a local provider or their local Single County Authority (SCA). SCAs plan, coordinate, manage and implement the delivery of drug and alcohol prevention, intervention and treatment services at the local level. For first responders to effectively manage and provide warm handoffs, they must connect and be aware of local resources.