EMS represents an important point of contact between drug abusers and the healthcare system. As America’s opioid crisis rages, that gives it a unique opportunity to intervene and help reduce users’ morbidity and mortality.
The latest position paper from the Metropolitan Municipalities EMS Medical Directors Coalition—those top big-city EMS docs better known as the Eagles—marshals the wisdom and best practices from their major jurisdictions in the battle. Entitled “Annotated Guidance and Recommendations for the Role and Actions of Emergency Medical Services Systems in the Current Opioid and Drug-Related Epidemics,” it appeared in the Journal of Emergency Medicine earlier this year.
The Eagles’ systems cover more than 114 million combined lives, authors led by Dave Keseg, MD, of the Columbus (Ohio) Division of Fire noted, and the guideline the docs produced is intended to share the insights they’ve gained on the issue.
They concluded that EMS has evolving training needs in the face of such new challenges, but also that “agencies have a special place within the collective of those hoping to provide solutions” to the public health crises of drugs and addiction. Beyond intervening in real-time overdoses, EMS should also partner with other stakeholders to “develop mechanisms to end the repetitive cycle of emergency rescue followed by an almost immediate return to addictive behaviors.” EMS providers should be trained to communicate effectively with users and refer them to appropriate resources to guide long-term recovery, the docs say.