Getnaloxonenow.org has officially launched a free online training program in overdose prevention, recognition and response, funded by the National Institutes of Health and developed with the expertise of emergency physicians, EMS providers and harm-reduction specialists.
Seasoned EMS professionals may have witnessed firsthand the impact in their communities of a nationwide increase in deaths from the use and abuse of opioids, especially prescription painkillers and heroin. For several age groups, death due to overdose is now more likely than death from an automobile accident. The president’s Office of National Drug Control Policy recognized the scale of the problem when it declared that drug overdose is now a national epidemic.
As a result, this year many states have changed laws to enable EMTs and police to take a crucial role in saving lives from overdose by allowing and sometimes funding them to carry naloxone. In the past this lifesaving antidote was generally reserved for paramedics. EMT-Bs may be the first to arrive on a scene, however, and timely administration of naloxone (also known as Narcan) can mean the difference between death and survival for a victim. System leaders looking to arm their EMTs with the antidote need look no further for training on how to recognize overdose and administer help.
“The expanded use of an intranasal narcotic antagonist by trained first responders will no doubt enhance our care of patients with opioid overdoses,” says Todd LeDuc, chief fire officer in Broward County, FL, and a member of the board of directors for the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Safety, Health and Survival Section. “Well-trained and -equipped first responders provide a critical link in the chain of survival of narcotic overdose patients, and this training is an excellent step to putting the pieces in place for successful outcomes.”
A multistate evaluation showed the training significantly increases EMTs’ knowledge about opioid-associated overdoses and confidence in responding to one with naloxone.
The training is free and can be completed in about 40 minutes. Self-paced and interactive, it caters to individual learning needs. Those who successfully pass an online test after completing it receive a certificate of completion they can give to their organization. National CECBEMS accreditation for EMS CEUs is being sought.
The website also offers separate training for laypeople who wish to learn how to use naloxone and find out where they can obtain a personal prescription. The training may be taken anonymously. EMS may wish to pass on the link to their community members and especially family and friends of patients at risk of overdose.
Contributors to the training include:
Janie Simmons, EdD, principal investigator; National Development Research Institutes, Inc., Social Sciences Innovations Corp., New York, NY.
Alexander Walley, MD, MSc, coinvestigator; assistant professor of medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston Medical Center; medical director, Massachusetts Department of Public Health Opioid Overdose Prevention Pilot Program and Boston Public Health Commission Opioid Treatment Program.
Sharon Stancliff, MD, coinvestigator; medical director, Harm Reduction Coalition, New York, NY.
Maya Doe-Simkins, MPH, coinvestigator; public health consultant specializing in opioid-related overdose prevention and other drug-related harms, Chicago, IL.
Sara Jencke, PhD, coinvestigator; director, Center of Fire, Rescue and EMS Health Research, Institute of Biobehavioral Health Research, Mid-Atlantic National Development Research Institutes, Inc., Leawood, KS.
Sonali Rajan, EdD, evaluator; assistant professor of health education, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY.
Nabil El Sanadi, MD, MBA, FACEP, expert panelist; emergency services director, Broward Sheriff’s Office Department of Fire Rescue and Fort Lauderdale Emergency Medical Services; chief medical officer, emergency medicine, Broward County, FL.
Todd LeDuc, expert panelist; member, Board of Directors, International Association of Fire Chiefs Safety, Health and Survival Section; chief fire officer, Broward Sheriff’s Office, Broward County, FL.
Michael Dailey, MD, expert panelist; Department of Emergency Medicine, Albany Medical Center, NY.
Caroline Baptista, RN, research fellow; Hillman Nursing Scholar, NYU School of Nursing, New York, NY.
Magdalena Del Angel, RN, research fellow; Hillman Nursing Scholar, NYU School of Nursing, New York, NY.
Shana Harris, PhD, research fellow; behavioral science training in drug abuse research, National Development Research Institutes, Inc., Public Health Solutions, Inc., New York, NY.
Michael Grabinksi, graphic designer; president, Red 5, LLC, New York, NY.
Caroline Baptista, RN, CCRN, is a recipient of the Hillman Alumni Nursing Network Nursing Innovation Fellowship and former EMT-B. She is currently a student Registered Nurse Anesthetist at Columbia University.
Janie Simmons, EdD, is an ethnographer and investigator at NDRI, Inc., specializing in HIV and overdose prevention. She has worked extensively with drug users and on a variety of NIDA-funded prevention studies. She is an affiliated researcher with the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research at New York University and an advisory board and faculty member at the Fordham University HIV Prevention Research Ethics Institute.