Jan. 23—Following Gov. Tom Wolfe's declaration this month that opioid addiction is a disaster emergency in the state, Foxwall EMS will participate in the naloxone "Leave Behind" program to combat overdoses.
The Fox Chapel-based service will leave naloxone nasal spray with family members or close contacts of overdose victims who choose not to be taken to the hospital after being treated. Naloxone is an antidote for opioid overdoses.
"The first rule of medicine is do no harm," Foxwall Cmdr. Josh Worth said. "If we save just one life by doing this, we have done our job."
EMS responders will provide a single dose, for free, to overdose victims who refuse further evaluation. Instructional pamphlets will also be distributed.
Foxwall provides service to residents of Fox Chapel and Aspinwall.
Worth said the "Leave Behind" program isn't without debate.
"There is a lot of stigma and misinformation regarding patients who suffer from addiction," he said. "These individuals still deserve the very best care possible and a chance at a better life."
Naloxone is available to Foxwall through the Allegheny County Health Department by a grant from the state commission on crime and delinquency.
"We are in the midst of an epidemic and we need to save as many lives as possible," health department Director Dr. Karen Hacker said. "We thank Foxwall EMS for participating in the program and we hope that more emergency medical services will follow suit."
For more on the program, call Foxwall at 412-963-6611.