5 EMS innovations for combating opioid overdose epidemic

The opioid overdose epidemic is taking an emotional toll on EMS providers; here’s a roundup of innovations aimed at combating this issue


By EMS1 Staff

Over the last year, we’ve seen opioid overdoses skyrocket, leaving first responders with constant overdose calls. Specifically, the use of naloxone has become an everyday ― sometimes an hourly ― tool EMS personnel use.

From parents overdosing in front of their children to responders administering naloxone up to five times to revive someone, we understand the emotional toll it can take on EMS.

One EMS agency will begin asking overdose patients for their preferred funeral home should they not survive their next overdose. (Photo/West End Ambulance Service)
One EMS agency will begin asking overdose patients for their preferred funeral home should they not survive their next overdose. (Photo/West End Ambulance Service)

Here are five of this year’s top innovations created by EMS providers to help combat this epidemic.

1. Pa. EMS agency launches 'One Breath from Death' campaign
West End Ambulance Service has begun asking overdose patients for their preferred funeral home should they not survive their next overdose. The agency’s manager said, “I’m giving them a shot of reality. You were one breath from death.”

2. How to start an EMS naloxone distribution program
Guilford County EMS partnered with the N.C. Harm Reduction Coalition to distribute naloxone to patients who refuse transport after an overdose. Since the program started on Aug. 11, 2016, Guilford County EMS providers have distributed more than 30 kits to people who refuse hospital transport after an overdose.

3. Mo. paramedic leads effort to #StopHeroin
When St. Charles paramedic Lisa Cassidy saw the opioid epidemic unfold in her community, she found it impossible to stay silent. Cassidy partnered with St. Charles County Ambulance District to create a cohesive infographic campaign that was used across the agency’s social media, newsletter and website in August.

4. How EMS data can solve the opioid overdose epidemic
EMS leaders at Pinnacle Conference learn how CAD and ePCR data, not naloxone, might be EMS's greatest contribution to resolving opioid overdose epidemic. The multi-dimensional solution to the epidemic will be prevention through education and other interventions at the national, local and individual levels.

5. Opioid overdose epidemic: How a Wis. fire department is collaborating with law enforcement
The North Shore Fire/Rescue Department collected data on where used heroin needles were found in a community, and where naloxone was being consistently administered. They shared the data ― using ePCR and CAD systems ― to show law enforcement real-time patterns and trends of drug overdoses.

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