York City firefighters start carrying naloxone
Gordon Rago, York Daily Record | 01.12.17
Photo by Terry Costigan/@TMCNEWS via AP
This photo provided by Terry Costigan of @TMCNEWS shows an emergency worker holding a baby boy as other emergency workers revive a suspected overdose victim Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, at a gas station in Elyria, Ohio. Police say Debra Hyde of Elyria, Ohio, has been charged with child endangering after she was found unresponsive in a pickup truck with her grandson in the backseat, and emergency workers had to break a window before reviving her with the overdose antidote naloxone.
(York) -- York City Fire/Rescue Services this week started carrying naloxone, which can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose, becoming one of the few fire departments in the county to do so.
"We decided it was an avenue we needed to approach," said Chad Deardorff, deputy fire chief with the city's fire department.
As of Tuesday morning, the department began responding to 911 overdose calls within city limits. They received 200 injectable doses of naloxone thanks to a grant. Dr. Matthew Howie, the city's bureau of health medical director and newly appointed executive director of the York Regional Opiate Collective, helped write the grant, which the fire department received about three weeks ago.
Deardorff said the department had been looking into carrying the antidote. However, funding issues were a barrier.
"This is not cheap," he said of carrying naloxone.
York joins the Dover Township Fire Department, which also carries naloxone, but only in its nasal spray form. The department's assistant chief, Chris Wertz, said they carry three doses department-wide.
One dose costs $50, Wertz said, and Dover orders a new dose if they use one in the field. The antidote has a shelf life of two years.
Both Wertz and Deardorff did not know of any other fire departments that carry it. York County's police officers all administer naloxone through a grant from the District Attorney's Office. Late last year, state officials filled prescriptions for naloxone to demonstrate that now, across Pennsylvania, everyone can acquire it at any pharmacy that carries it. The standing order allows anyone to receive the antidote without a prescription from their own doctor.
Prior to Tuesday, York City Fire/Rescue Services firefighters were not called out on overdose calls, Deardorff said. The city's police department carries naloxone as do EMS crews.
They were responding to 911 calls dispatched as "unconscious subject," he said, and will continue to do so. Those calls may not have anything to do with an overdose.
Deardorff said his department received the doses several weeks ago, but held off on training firefighters until after the New Year. The doses will go in with other medical gear the firefighters carry.
Deardorff led the classes -- he had experience from a previous job working part-time with an ambulance. Right now, 54 of the department's 56 firefighters are trained to use it -- two are on extended leave due to injuries.
As of Wednesday evening, they had not used any doses yet, Deardorff said.
Published in Healthcare Transformation