SC city firefighters now equipped with naloxone
Firefighters will be carrying two doses of naloxone after the department administered the drug on 223 calls in one year
By Noah Feit
The State (Columbia, S.C.)
LEXINGTON, S.C. — Members of the Lexington County Fire Service will have another tool at their disposal in an effort to save lives.
Firefighters will begin carrying Narcan for patients suffering from an overdose, county officials said Monday in a news release.
Narcan, which is the name of a popular brand of the drug naloxone, can be administered as a nasal spray or as an injection, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said.
It can reverse the symptoms of an opioid overdose and has “become a critical tool for emergency responders in the fight against opioid abuse and addiction,” Lexington County officials said.
Lexington County firefighters will each carry two doses of Narcan.
“Lexington County firefighters are all trained in basic life-support care and are oftentimes called upon to first respond for critical medical calls,” Lexington County Emergency Services Director David Kerr said in the release. “The issuance of Narcan to our fire units allows for more avenues for a patient to receive the life-saving drug as quickly as possible when the need arises.”
Many anti-addiction advocates have called naloxone a “lifesaving” drug, The State reported.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration describes naloxone as “a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration to prevent overdose by opioids such as heroin, morphine, and oxycodone. It blocks opioid receptor sites, reversing the toxic effects of the overdose. Naloxone is administered when a patient is showing signs of opioid overdose.”
“It’s an otherwise harmless drug that gives people a chance to get to the hospital,” Brittany Vannort, the director of outreach for the Charleston-based S.C. Harm Reduction Coalition, said to The State.
The timeframe is a major reason Lexington County is equipping firefighters with Narcan.
Firefighters are often the first emergency workers on the scene of an emergency call, and giving them Narcan “will allow for the medication to reach patients even faster, restoring breathing and protecting a patient’s airways,” county officials said.
The decision was based on data.
“From Aug. 1, 2018, to Aug. 1, 2019, Lexington County emergency responders answered 223 calls for service where Narcan was administered during the call,” according to the news release.
As the number of prescriptions for Narcan are on the rise, health officials said that could be a reason overdose deaths have stopped rising for the first time in nearly three decades, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Lexington County firefighters were trained on proper uses of Narcan by the Lexington County Emergency Medical Service. The money to provide the Narcan to the firefighters came from a grant from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, which called opioid abuse a “deadly epidemic.”
©2019 The State (Columbia, S.C.)