Staten Island DA McMahon Gives Insight To Fentanyl Overdose Task Force Duties, Responsibilities, Realities


When the Fentanyl and Overdose Task Force’s report was released, which can be found here, several follow up questions were asked to the District Attorney’s office.  The following are the questions and their paraphrased answers: 

1- What are some of his proposals or concrete ideas for stopping the flow of fentanyl into the United States?

That specifically is not a local issue, as it has to do with how it is getting into the country. This question is not in their purview, beyond calling for more investment in screening, more manpower at the border, the need to examine more trucks. That question may be better suited for Port Authority or our senators.

Once the Fentanyl is here on Staten island, the District Attorney’s office does everything they can to figure out who has it stored in their house, who the big dealers are, and there is an overdose response initiative as well. That is investigating every single overdose seriously, as if it was a homicide in that they cordon off the area, look for evidence (pill bottles, cell phones) – anything that can help them to find out where the person who died got their drugs.

Usually it is the last person they were texting or calling, then they go from the street dealer who pulls up in the car – that person on the street is relatively low, but that person has someone that they report to, and so on – and the DA’s office tries to find the house where they are packaging it, where the house got the drugs that they have.  This can be determined through wiretaps, community tips, and other methods.  They start low and work their way out, and try to build their way up the chain to the large networks.

At that level of the chain, they start getting search warrants, etc. The illegal operations usually involve large groups of people, but if someone witnesses a hand to hand transaction, those are the one offs. Or if someone is arrested for something else, but they have drugs on them, this is also a one off drug arrest. The larger scale of that starts with community level, where the tips come in to get to the higher levels. He has a longer write up about ORI, but in general the  process is that they want to work their way up the food chain.  That way, you will have a bigger impact in getting the narcotics off the street, and ultimately reducing the overdoses in a larger way.

2-Do attendees of Narcan events get a certificate?  Are there any community classes coming up? 

Right now there are none scheduled, but the DA’s office often does them upon request, such as for the Kiwanis Club or the Rotary; that weekend (about three weeks ago) they were doing it for the Zimmer club. They have people that are trained and can do community trainings. They haven’t done one for the general public in a while. The availability of naloxone is much broader; it is much easier to get it.

They appreciate Asm. Pirozzolo for doing the recent training for them. At all of the trainings hosted by the DA’s office, the people who attend will receive a kit. Sometimes when the EMS is at a site, and a naloxone kit that the DA’s office gave to them was used, they can tell if the kit was received at the training, which is helpful to determine what the most effective way to distribute the naloxone is in the future.

The EMS won’t tell them directly when they find a used kit that was distributed by their office, but they can get that info if it’s a larger case, so if they ask for it as part of an investigation. The health department tracks what kits were used and where they came from in terms of serial numbers; they are able to know which of the events the kits came from that were actually used.

At Alternatives to Incarceration and other events, the public can get  information on using the kits. To his knowledge, the health department is collecting data about the effectiveness of events that they have.

He isn’t sure of attendees get a certificate when they attend a Narcan training, but they definitely get a kit and have to be trained in how to use it. At a training, they take the kit out, put the pieces together, and demonstrate it. There is one that is like flonase, but there are others where several pieces have to be put together. Depending on the type of kit, there is some training.

3- What is the liability involved for someone who tries to help but something goes wrong or is unexpected? 

Good Samaritan laws protect people who do these things in trying to save someones life. These laws exist because they don’t want to discourage someone from trying to help someone, for example if someone was to break someones hand or foot if they tried to save their life. They can’t then find that person liable for hurting someone if they were trying to help and inadvertently caused harm. That law does exist and does protect people from incidental harm. Good Samaritan laws.

Banner Image: Narcan. Image Credit – Pharmacy Images



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