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EMS Distributed Naloxone Kits May Make a Difference

When I was in paramedic school, I performed my internship at one of the largest urban centers in the country. At that time, the city was in the middle of a heroin crisis. EMS units were responding to numerous overdose calls daily, including mine.

We ran the overdose calls in a fairly routine way: bag the patient, start an IV and administer a coma cocktail of naloxone, thiamine and dextrose. All was well and good, except when the patient regained consciousness and refused to be transported.

In one instance, the medic gave the victim a vial of naloxone before he walked away. I was surprised and asked the medic why he would do that. He shrugged his shoulders and said something to the effect that if the patient was going to overdose again, at least one of his friends could administer the naloxone and maybe prevent another EMS response.

Fast forward 31 years and it’s déjà vu all over again. Guilford County (N.C.) EMS units are carrying naloxone kits that are being provided to patients who overdose on narcotics, are resuscitated and refuse transport. In addition to naloxone, the kits contain information regarding narcotic addiction and assistance.

It’s a classic harm reduction model — strategies and techniques aimed at reducing the potential for harm. It’s based on the mindset that drug addiction is a disease, not a choice. Kicking the habit and staying clean are not simple choices either. The urge to use narcotics is both physically and psychologically driven.

Other examples of harm reduction include providing clean needles to intravenous drug users to avoid infection; substituting legal methadone in exchange for illegal heroin; outreach services that contact patients and provide access to treatment programs; and now naloxone kits that might prevent an accidental fatal overdose.

Read full article here: http://www.ems1.com/columnists/art-hsieh/articles/125875048-EMS-distribu...