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Locals respond to Pres. Trump's opioid crisis emergency announcement

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President Trump verbally committed Thursday to declaring the opioid crisis a national emergency.

Here in Central PA local first responders and people who have been affected by the epidemic say this region is also in a crisis when it comes to opioid and specifically heroin abuse.

Stacy Emminger's son, Anthony Perez, overdosed on heroin in 2014 at just 23 years old.

"He said I love you mom and he went upstairs and that was the last time I saw him alive," said Emminger.

But she says it wasn't until after that she noticed how big of a problem heroin was in her community, which is Mount Joy and Lancaster County as a whole.

Susquehanna Valley EMS, which covers parts of Lancaster County, has responded to 163 overdoses so far this year and they expect that number to double by the end of the year.

The "War on Drugs" began in 1971 and since then America has seen drug epidemics come and go but Michael Fitzgibbons, the President of Susquehanna Valley EMS who's worked in emergency response for 38 years, says this is the worst he's ever seen it. The CDC's latest data backs that up showing prescription and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999.

"I think it's the worst in the fact of fatalities there was always some form of drug out there that was causing an increase in numbers but the number of fatalities seems to be the driving force of what's going on," said Fitzgibbons.

Emminger and Fitzgibbons both agree with the President's declaration of a national emergency but also have concerns.

Emminger says in Lancaster County she wants to see more treatment centers and she hopes the declaration will have an impact on local communities.

"If it's going to be more of just say no to drugs then it's not going to help anything... If it can translate into more money and support then I think it's a great thing," said Emminger.

Fitzgibbons hopes the declaration means more naloxone to first responders, more treatment centers and mostly that the effects trickle down to EMS providers who are on the front lines.

"If you look at the recommendation of the committee there it says nothing about emergency first responders it focuses on police officers which are a critical part of first response but it doesn't mention anything in there about ambulance response at all," said Fitzgibbons.

In the meantime Fitzgibbons says his crews will keep saving lives and Emminger says she'll keep doing what she can to get her community clean partially to make Anthony proud and partially to make sure no one else goes through what she did.

A White House statement issued this evening said that President Trump has instructed his administration to use all appropriate emergency authorities to respond to the crisis.

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