Good Samaritan Law PSA filmed

Administering Narcan and calling 911 at the scene of an overdose can help save lives. 


Community members and first responders volunteered their time Wednesday evening to produce and film a public service announcement (PSA) on the Good Samaritan Law that will be circulated throughout the Island.

In Massachusetts, the Good Samaritan Law protects people who call 911 during an overdose from being charged with possession of a controlled substance, according to the Overdose Prevention & Education Network website. “Dying from an overdose is 100 percent preventable if the victim receives timely and appropriate medical attention,” the website states.

At the Edgartown School, members of both the Edgartown Police and the West Tisbury Police were there alongside Edgartown EMTs to film the dramatization of an officer and a paramedic arriving at the scene of an overdose.

The short video was the idea of Island music teacher and member of the Martha’s Vineyard Substance Use Disorder Coalition (MVSUD) Michele Jones. Jones is involved with the addiction and recovery community on-Island, and has been known to use her bicycle to deliver Narcan to anyone who needs it.

According to Jones, she got the idea for the PSA video while looking at videos offered by other communities that provide information on the Good Samaritan Law.

“We used to hang up posters and stuff, but I thought using a video on social media would be more effective. And then it just dawned on me, that we need to make our own video, with our own people, in our own community,” Jones said.

Jones reached out to Chip Coblyn, who serves with her on the “On-Island ” subcommittee of the MVSUD. “On-Island” is a documentary filmed entirely on Martha’s Vineyard that illustrates the struggles of addiction and recovery that many individuals face in our community.

Coblyn has an extensive background in graphic and industrial design, and jumped at the opportunity to film the PSA.

At the base of the short video, Jones said, the intention is to impart the message that administering Narcan and calling 911 gives an overdose victim a much better chance of surviving. 

“They can’t get in trouble for doing that — the law protects them from any kind of liability and, in fact, if there are substances present,” Jones said.

She said many people have reached out to her asking for Narcan deliveries, whether they know someone who is struggling with substance use disorder, or simply want to be prepared if the situation arises where someone overdoses. 

Throughout her involvement with the addiction and recovery community, Jones said, she has seen countless examples of people stepping up to help those in need.

“We have already made progress with people opening their hearts and minds to help. This is just another step in reinforcing the fact that people do want to support each other and give each other kindness,” Jones said.

Jones said that, to accompany the PSA, Coblyn and she are considering filming a Narcan training video, with the help of Island emergency personnel. She stressed that Narcan is available from several sources, including pharmacies, and Health Imperatives in Vineyard Haven. “Or you can private-message me, and I will bring you Narcan,” Jones said.

Coblyn said he was excited for the chance to get information regarding the Good Samaritan Law out to the public and into the “social media bloodstream” of the Island.

“I thought this was really important. People have been talking about this law for a long time, and now we can portray it and help people to understand it,” he said. Coblyn added that the video will also be overdubbed in Brazilian Portuguese, and made available online to the entire community.

“That community needs representation and information as much as anybody else, and that language barrier is a real issue,” Coblyn said. 

Edgartown Police Sgt. Jonathan Searle said taking the time to administer Narcan right away and not being afraid to call 911 are steps that can potentially save lives. “In the past, we would respond to a dead body call, essentially. Everything is clean, the person is all by themselves, and the autopsy would come back that they died of an overdose, which was tragic because you knew that there was drug paraphernalia, and there were drugs there, but someone took all the time to clean up and get out of there, instead of calling for help for the person,” Searle said.

But now, the laws have changed to support good Samaritans when they call for help, and all emergency personnel have Narcan on-hand in case they need to respond to an overdose.

“Time is of the essence in these cases, and we don’t want people hesitating, wondering if they are going to get in trouble or not, so it’s important to get that message out,” Searle said. 

When asked if he thinks it’s a good idea for members of the public to carry Narcan on their person, in their vehicle, or in their home medkits, Searle said, “Absolutely.”

“We have had a number of experiences where we have brought people with no vital signs whatsoever back to life by administering Narcan, so it really does save lives,” he said.

Edgartown Police officer and recovery coach Curtis Chandler said administering Narcan and calling 911 are often the first steps toward recovery for someone who is suffering from addiction.

After police respond to an overdose call, they ensure the person has access to detox and rehabilitation services, outpatient care, recovery coaches, and any other support they can offer.

“We have a lot of other resources, but if we don’t hear about it, and we don’t know that person is struggling, that person is not going to get those resources as quickly,” Chandler said. “[Narcan] is one of the first steps. It saves a life long enough, hopefully, for us to be able to get them the help that they really need.”

Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee said all the police and emergency services departments on the Island want to be “part of the solution,” and are looking to eliminate any impediments for people who need support.

“We are hoping that by working with a PSA like this, we can communicate out to people that calling 911 is going to get them help, and not a prosecution,” McNamee said.

The video is currently in the final stages of production, and will soon be made available on Island police websites, on the MVSUD website, and on other online platforms.