The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 12, 2014

Don’t mess with it

— There are some things in this world you just don’t mess with.

And we would think that our legislators would know that.

Word came out Monday that as they try to wrangle a budget deficit under control, lawmakers are talking about cutting funding to the West Virginia Poison Control Center.

Carissa McBurney, Community Outreach coordinator, said the center is looking at 7.5 percent cuts from both the state and federal budgets, and the center already is running on a “bare minimum” of staff.

It is the go-to place for assessment and emergency treatment advice for myriad incidents of ingestion, bites, stings, overdoses, spills and more.

The center is there for everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to take your call and help you determine what actions to take in any given scenario.

Heck, even doctors use it for the most up-to-date poison management recommendations.

So, Mr. or Ms. Legislator, let’s say you don’t restore the funds for the Poison Control Center and it is forced to close its doors. Your small son somehow eludes you, finds his way into the tool shed and somehow manages to drink or spray a toxic substance.

Time is of the essence. You need an emergency solution. The ER doc isn’t a poison specialist. Out of habit, one of you calls the Poison Center — only, wait. No one is there to help.

If the West Virginia PCC closes, there are few alternatives. There is no central poison control center in the U.S. and centers in the 49 other states are facing their own troubles. They won’t be able to take up our slack.

The West Virginia Poison Control Center fields 42,000 calls a year — an average of 115 calls a day.

To us, that says there is a huge need for the center to remain open, as well as the potential for a number of tragedies should it close.

We strongly urge our senators and delegates to very carefully weigh their options on this matter. We believe there are many other areas of the budget that can better withstand a little slice from the budget knife.

We also urge our readers to reach out to their local legislators and to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and tell them how much this center is needed.

This important state service must be saved. You never know when you might need it.