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Law Enforcement and First Responders Back Baldwin’s Bill to Help Address Fentanyl and Opioid Crisis

Support grows for Baldwin’s bipartisan bill to ensure first responders have training and resources to prevent overdose deaths

WISCONSIN – Local, state, and national public safety leaders and organizations are expressing strong support for U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin’s bipartisan legislation to address the opioid and fentanyl epidemic. Baldwin’s legislation, the Safe Response Act, invests in a critical grant program that allows states, local governments, and Tribes to train first responders on how to use life-saving overdose reversal drugs, like naloxone. The legislation was included in the bipartisan Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Reauthorization (SUPPORT) Act of 2023, which recently passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

“The opioid and fentanyl epidemic is devastating Wisconsin communities, and our firefighters, police officers, and paramedics are on the front lines every day working to combat this crisis,” said Senator Baldwin. “My bill will help ensure that our law enforcement and first responders have what they need to reverse an overdose or poisoning and save lives. I’m so proud to earn the support of so many of our hard-working first responders and will keep fighting to get this bill signed into law.”

“Thank you for continuing to address the opioid and fentanyl crisis that emergency responders are all-to-familiar with,” said Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association President Joe Pulvermacher. “By targeting chemical suppliers and cartels you are actively working to identify the source of this problem and curb the flow of fentanyl into the country. You are targeting the illicit fentanyl supply chain and are investing in border security. We appreciate your advocacy to boost support for opioid prevention, treatment, and recovery resources for local communities.”

"I thank you for introducing this important legislation along with Senators Hassan and Capito," said International Association of Fire Chiefs President and Board Chair Fire Chief John Butler. "Fire and EMS departments are on the frontlines and work every day to reduce the toll of the opioid epidemic. We appreciate your focus on making sure that our personnel have the tools and training required to respond to this crisis."

“I appreciate Senator Baldwin’s interest and commitment to support first responders with critical training and resources to prevent overdose deaths,” said Milwaukee Fire Chief Aaron Lipski. “Thank you, Senator Baldwin, for your dedication to the ongoing efforts of helping those in the community with substance use issues to receive the best possible immediate and follow-up care through training and valuable resources to present a positive outcome for all involved.”

“I fully support Senator Baldwin’s Safe Response Act aimed at providing first responders with much-needed resources and tools to help prevent overdose deaths and protect officers in the event of an exposure,” said Racine Chief of Police Alexander Ramirez.

“During my tenure as chief of police in Racine, Wisconsin, in response to the growing fentanyl crisis, all sworn members of the department were trained in the use of the life-saving drug Narcan to save lives within our community,” said former Racine Chief of Police Art Howell. “With the help of Senator Baldwin’s leadership, we will be able to push forward various programs, services, and initiatives that enhance public safety.”

“I, alongside Waukesha Police Chief Daniel Thompson and Waukesha Fire Chief Steve Howard, support Senator Baldwin’s Safe Response Act,” said Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly. “In Waukesha, we have already taken the initiative to train and educate first responders and key community sectors, but we welcome more resources and see the benefits in doing even more to provide more resources to address overdose deaths.”

“The impact of Opioid addiction in our communities is immense,” said Kenosha Fire Chief Daniel Tilton. “First responders are in need of specialized training to combat this issue. Kenosha Fire is currently partnered with Kenosha County public health and Oakwood clinical associates in the Kenosha Overdose Response Initiative (KORI). The program establishes processes, protocols and mechanisms for referral to appropriate support services and education to aid those battling Opioid substance use. Continuing and expanding programs such as KORI and providing more training to first responders is critical. I appreciate Senator Baldwin’s efforts to address this issue.”

“Baldwin’s Safe Response Act will create opportunities for communities to assist those impacted by substance misuse disorders,” said Menomonie City Administrator and former Chief of Police Eric Atkinson.

“The current opioid epidemic has created  unprecedented challenges for law-enforcement," said Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes. "Our officers can be the first to help those overdosing. Daily, we work with community partners to help those in active addiction. We support the Safe Response Act as an additional too that allows first responders to better help and serve others.”

“The Safe Response Act, championed by Senator Baldwin, would ensure our first responders in Madison receive critical training and resources to effectively prevent overdose deaths, an important step towards a safer and healthier future for our community," said Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway

In Wisconsin, the Safe Response Act is supported by:

  • Wisconsin Professional Police Association
  • Wisconsin State Firefighters Association
  • Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association
  • Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson
  • Racine Police Chief Alexander Ramirez
  • Milwaukee Fire Chief Aaron Lipski
  • Former Racine Chief of Police Art Howell
  • Kenosha City Administrator and former Kenosha Chief of Police John Morrissey
  • Waukesha Fire Chief Steve Howard
  • Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly
  • City Administrator of Menomonie and former Menomonie Chief of Police Eric Atkinson
  • Winnebago County Sheriff John Matz
  • Sheboygan County Sheriff Cory Roeseler
  • Green Bay Metro Fire Chief Matthew Knott
  • Marquette County Sheriff Joseph Konrath
  • Rock County Sheriff Curt Fell
  • Kenosha Fire Chief Daniel Tilton
  • La Crosse County Sheriff John Siegel
  • Portage Mayor Mitchel Craig
  • Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway
  • Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes

Across the country, the Safe Response Act is supported by the

  • National Association of Police Organizations
  • International Association of Firefighters
  • International Association of Fire Chiefs
  • National Volunteer Fire Council
  • National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians
  • National Council of Urban Indian Health
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO)
  • Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse (MAPDA)
  • Big Cities Health Coalition

In September, Senator Baldwin introduced the Safe Response Act alongside Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), to reauthorize a grant program that allows states, local government entities, and Tribes to train and provide resources to first responders to respond to overdoses.

This legislation is part of Senator Baldwin’s larger effort to curb the fentanyl and opioid epidemic. Senator Baldwin is working to target the illicit fentanyl supply chain, from the chemical suppliers in China to the cartels that traffic the drugs from Mexico, with her FEND Off Fentanyl Act. Senator Baldwin also has worked to stop the flow of fentanyl from coming over our Southwest border, including introducing the Stop Fentanyl at the Border Act to increase staffing capacity and technology to detect illicit drugs and other contraband being smuggled through ports of entry along the border.

Background on the Safe Response Act can be found here. Full text of this legislation is available here.