How first responders are handling opioid overdose calls in Florida

At the height of the opioid epidemic, EMTs and paramedics have become the first point for help with opioid overdose victims unwilling or unable to seek treatment, according to Pensacola News Journal.

EMTs and paramedics in Florida's Escambia and Santa Rosa counties are facing the brunt of the epidemic. Within the first six months of 2018, Escambia County responded to an estimated 176 opioid-related overdoses, equating to roughly one a day, and deployed naloxone 286 times.

"While overdose numbers are increasing, more concerning is the deep state of drug use in which those patients are found, and the drugs themselves that are evolving from an already-deadly epidemic," Escambia County EMS Chief Steve White told Pensacola News Journal.

EMTs now arrive at overdose scenes wearing protective equipment to thoroughly ride their own reaction to the chemicals, Kim Landry, MD, Santa Rosa County medical director and Lifeguard CMO told Pensacola New Journal.

EMTs are also carrying an increased amount of the counteractive drug naloxone to treat opioid overdose patients.

"[W]hen you reverse someone who has a deep altered level of consciousness, they’ll wake up and a lot of time they’re more aggressive," Dr. Landry told Pensacola New Journal. "And because they’re just totally unaware of the situation they're in, they become more violent and require restraints."

There has been some progress in terms of treating addiction symptoms. A fire rescue agency in Florida's Palm Beach County launched a pilot program in which overdose patients were given the opioid-blocker Suboxone in the emergency department to help them manage their addiction symptoms.

More articles on opioids: 

Geisinger slashes opioid prescriptions by 50% since 2014, saving $1M per year
Trump administration names new DEA head: 3 things to know
Viewpoint: Urine testing for opioids offers minimal clinical benefits

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