Opioid Overdose Reduction Act endorsed by AMR and AAA
Legislation, introduced in U.S. Senate, exempts trained first responders who administer overdose prevention drugs like naloxone from civil liability
NASHUA, N.H. — American Medical Response (AMR), the nation’s largest ambulance provider today joined the American Ambulance Association (AAA) and U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) to officially endorse the Opioid Overdose Reduction Act of 2015.
The legislation, introduced in March by Sen. Ayotte, intends to protect first responders, health care professionals and family members trained in administering and steps to be taken after administering an opioid overdose prevention drug like naloxone in an emergency incidence of drug overdose.
“It’s very important to our organization that first responders have the tools that they need to save lives in case of an opioid overdose and feel that they are able to use the means necessary without fear of prosecution," said Chris Stawasz, general manager for AMR in New Hampshire and Maine.
Between 2000 and 2013, the death rate from heroin overdoses nationwide nearly quadrupled. In 2014, New Hampshire saw almost nearly 300 deaths attributed to drug overdoses.
Other AMR leaders spoke in support of the Opioid Overdose Reduction Act.
“Substance misuse is a problem across the country, and right now New Hampshire is facing prescription opioid abuse and heroin epidemics," said Tom McEntee, CEO East Region for AMR.
Ayotte welcomed support from AMR and the American Ambulance Association. “I helped introduce the Opioid Overdose Reduction Act to provide liability protections to first responders, health professionals and family members who are educated in administering and steps to be taken after administering naloxone in an emergency situation of overdose,” Ayotte said.
The Opioid Overdose Reduction Act addresses the problem by exempting the following groups from civil liability:
- Individuals who work or volunteer at an opioid overdose program from any harm caused by the emergency administration of an opioid overdose drug that they provide as a part of an opioid overdose program
- Health care professionals from any harm caused by the emergency administration of an opioid overdose drug that they prescribe or provide to any person, provided that person receives education in the proper administration of the opioid overdose drug and steps to be taken after administration of the drug
- Individuals, including first responders, who administer an opioid overdose drug to a person who is or reasonably appears to have suffered an overdose, provided they either are doing so pursuant to a prescription or they obtained the overdose drug from an overdose program or a healthcare professional and received education in the proper administration of the overdose drug, including steps to be taken after administration of the drug.
AMR and AAA join other EMS, law enforcement, health care and behavioral health organizations who support this legislation.
“As a representative of the American Ambulance Association, I’m pleased to announce AAA’s support for this important measure that will help first responders as they do their part to address this public health crisis,” said Steve Murphy, senior vice president of government and national services for Envision Healthcare, AMR’s parent company.
“First responders, whether they are EMS, police and fire, or family, are serving on the front lines of unprecedented heroin and prescription drug crises,” Murphy said “They shouldn’t have to hesitate, especially in a moment that could mean life or death, to worry about a potential lawsuit.”