On July 11, Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone signed into law a bill passed unanimously by the Suffolk County Legislature on July 5 requiring all police vehicles to be equipped with EpiPens, auto-injectors that treat life-threatening, allergic emergencies.
However, until the New York Assembly passes bill AO7018, introduced with bipartisan support in May 2023, police cannot legally administer the EpiPens.
The Assembly bill establishes the First Responder Epinephrine Preparedness Initiative (EPI) Act, creating a first responder epinephrine access program; authorizes the commissioner of health to approve and implement a municipal epinephrine bulk purchase program; authorizes taxpayers to contribute a gift for municipal epinephrine bulk purchases; and establishes a municipal epinephrine bulk purchase fund.
Local assemblymen Jarett Gandolfo (R-7th District) and Joe DeStefano (R,C-3rd District) both expressed their support the A07018 bill and the county’s actions with its similar bill.
“This is another lifesaving tool for our Suffolk police,” said DeStefano. “Hats off to Legis. Thorne and his colleagues for their unanimous vote in making EpiPens standard issue.”
DeStefano said that as police are already equipped with Narcan devices, EpiPens would be a “powerful addition to their lifesaving tool kit.”
“Most times, severe allergic reactions and drug overdoses need a rapid response. Police can get there quickly, and with this equipment, save lives,” said DeStefano.
Gandolfo said allowing police to carry EpiPens “will undoubtedly save lives” and commended the legislature for the unanimous vote.
“We still need amendments to the state law to allow police officers to administer the treatment, and that is something I will be working on in the Assembly during the next legislative session,” said Gandolfo.
Legis. Dominic Thorne (R-7th District), who first introduced the EpiPen bill to the Suffolk County Legislature, said, “It is a great day when government can introduce a law that will, without a doubt, a save a life. Our decision to introduce this law is already being copied by Nassau and Westchester counties, and no doubt other municipalities in the state will follow suit.”
Thorne said that after decades of serving as an EMS, he had “seen first-hand the effects of allergic reactions.”
Fellow legislator Anthony Piccirillo (R-8th District) said he “fully supported” Thorne in his bill introduction and the subsequent bipartisan, unanimous vote.
“This well-crafted piece of legislation is supported by law enforcement. Having the ability to administer epinephrine in an emergency can save a life,” said Piccirillo, who urged lawmakers in Albany that “the state needs to help us move this important piece of legislation forward.”