Pinnacle: How Is Your Agency Fighting the Opioid Crisis?

Pinnacle: How Is Your Agency Fighting the Opioid Crisis?

By From staff Aug 09, 2017

"It's a hard fact that EMS sits in the epicenter of the opioid epidemic," said Rob Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer of Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA), at the Pinnacle EMS conference in Boca Raton, Florida. 

Lawrence, along with three other panelists, Jon Kelley, Dave Lewis, and Jamie Pianka, spoke on the harsh reality of the opioid epidemic that's plaguing the nation and how their respective agencies have gone about mitigating its impact on their communities. 

Lawrence explained that while state labs are running three months behind in testing for fentanyl and carfentanil from confiscated substances, EMS personnel are able to determine the severity of local opioid abuse based on the amount of naloxone they have to deliver to resuscitate overdose patients. In response to the epidemic, RAA created Project REVIVE, which offers professionals one hour of training on overdose treatment as well as a Narcan prescription and NAD equipment.

Jon Kelley, Director of Communications and IT at Trinity Emergency Medical Service, initiated Project Care, a therapy program for children 18 and under who have lost parents or siblings to drug overdoses. A representative from the Division of Children's Services is sent to the home of the child within 24 hours of the death of their family member to offer various forms of therapy to successfully heal from the trauma of their situation. The representatives regularly follow up with the children one-on-one to ensure they are making healthy improvements in their progress.

David Lewis, Assistant Chief at St. Charles County Ambulance District, said that as first responders, "We are running ground zero of the opioid epidemic. We're all in this together." SCCAD shares data on Narcan usage and overdose trends in different demographics with the county's MIH team and their public health agency so they can strategize possible solutions to the epidemic. SCCAD also works with FirstWatch, which sends overdose alerts to their MIH team as they occur so they know when to provide patients consent for referral forms.

Jamie Pianka, Chief Operating Officer of Pro EMS, discussed how his agency focuses on solutions that are centered around real data. Pro EMS has been submitting data on a regular basis to FirstWatch since 2009, including information on overdoses, "hot zones," and underaged drinking for public health epidemiologists to assess. This information helps target preventative measures for those who are at risk of addiction.

These four agencies are being proactive in their approach to developing measures to combat the opioid crisis, because overdose patients are not "addicts," they're people. What is your agency doing to help your people?

Dickinson College received a $5,000 grant to teach first responders how to treat traumatic injuries during mass-casualty incidents.
Lexi Sima was 16 when she survived sudden cardiac arrest because of bystanders' CPR and use of an AED, leading her family to advocate for CPR education.
MassBay Community College's nursing, EMT, and paramedic students participated in a mock disaster drill modeled after nursing home fatalities that occurred during Hurricane Irma.
Springfield firefighters are training for intermediate to paramedic-level certificates to improve patient outcomes, learning techniques like the pit crew method.
To better understand and treat the patients they revive with Narcan, firefighter-EMTs received training on opioid abuse and recovery
Womack Army Medical Center's security guards learned how to properly stop the bleeding in life-threatening wounds through the national Stop the Bleed Campaign.
Nova Southeastern University's Master of Science in Disaster and Emergency Management is online, providing flexibility for working students and offering a discount to full-time fire, EMS, and law enforcement personnel.
ZOLL® Medical Corporation is sponsoring four CAPCE-accredited online safety courses to help first responders mitigate the risks associated with operating emergency vehicles.
Pre-registration is now open for the 2018 NVFC Training Summit which will take place June 1-2, 2018, in Concord, NC.
This is the third EMT Training Course that Mohawk Ambulance Service accepted eight students into at no charge.
The Telecommunicator Emergency Response Taskforce trained two dozen 9-1-1 dispatchers in disaster emergency skills.
Missteps can embarrass organizations and destroy careers—what should leaders know?
Harvey County Emergency Manager Gary Denney, who dealt with a mass shooting in 2016, taught other first responders how to prepare an Incident Command System to deal with such incidents.
The Stop the Bleed campaign holds classes across the country teaching people how to pack wounds and use tourniquets on trauma victims at risk of bleeding to death.
Hawkeye Community College demonstrated the roles of various healthcare professionals treating the injured patients, including paramedics, respiratory therapists, nurses, medical lab technicians, and physical therapists.