"Rally to Save Lives" in Buffalo

Group wants to provide options to battle opioid epidemic

Mike Baggerman
April 15, 2017 - 4:00 am

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - During Broadway Market’s peak hours on Friday a group rallied outside the building for the creation of safe injection sites and other options to battle the opioid epidemic in Western New York.

“A safe injection site is a facility that is clean and sterile and the effected person would go and inject,” Marilyn Gentile said. “In case of an overdose, they would be revived. They would be supplied with clean needles so it would cut down the risk of any infections such as Hepatitis and HIV. It would also provide help and treatment when they come to terms that they’re ready to get better.”

The issue is important specifically for Gentile because her son, Bobby, died last year after an overdose on fentanyl and heroin. 

In addition to the safe injection sites, the rally, called the “Rally to Save Lives” called for naloxone, the opioid antidote, to be distributed by teams. Plus, the group told WBEN they want a state of emergency to be declared in New York because of the opioids epidemic.

“We’ve got a couple petitions started with several hundreds signatures on each one,” Lisa Ingrassia told WBEN. “One is a petition to declare a state of emergency in New York State because particularly in Erie County, we have a very high overdose death rate here in Erie County.”

Ingrassia told WBEN the petitions  can be found on Facebook and have been circulating throughout the area for months. “Western New York Still Standing” is one of the groups along with “716 Resource Recovery” page. 

The group is also advocating for a “mobile narcan street team” to distribute narcan to those who need it the most.

Another organizer of the event was Tracy Diina, who was addicted to cocaine but has been sober for several years.

“We need to come up with better solutions than what we have right now,” Diina said. “People are dying. Despite the fact that we have created a task force and done some things, people are still dying. They’re dying more and more. We need to do things that prevent that and some of those things that can prevent that is getting narcan directly in the hands of abusing addicts, creating safe injection sites so that people can go use and not die, and ideally getting funding through a declaration of a state of emergency.”

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