Local agencies look into administrating drug to combat opioid overdose

By Daniela Leon
WIBW – June 30, 2017

Come July 1st, a new Kansas law will allow first responders, including law enforcement officers and fire fighters, to administer the drug Narcan.

The medication instantly counteracts the symptoms of an opioid overdose.

The issue is increasingly in the public eye. An analysis from Blue Cross Blue Shield of its members released Thursday found that from 2010 to 2016, the number of people diagnosed with an addiction to opioids — including both legal prescription drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as illicit drugs — climbed 493 percent. In Kansas, drug poisoning deaths increased 121.6 percent since 2000, according to the Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment’s latest vital statistics report. Health officials attribute the increase largely to the increased use of opioid medications, which are drugs like Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin.

“People truly need pain medication for certain reasons and they start taking those medicines and building an intolerance and start taking more and more,” said Jon Antrim, Shawnee and Wabaunsee County AMR Operations Manager.

AMR ambulance personnel has been administering the drug for a while. In 2016, they used it 48 times, an increase from 2015 when they administered the drug 39 times.

This new law, approved by the legislature and signed by Gov. Sam Brownback this spring, allows officers for agencies like Topeka Police, Topeka Fire and the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office to give out the drug.

Antrim said it could mean the difference between life and death, since an ambulance EMT may not be the first one to encounter the person in crisis.

“It allows more people to administer the drug and get it to people that need it in a timely fashion,” Antrim said.

Antrim says Narcan has few side effects. Agencies who want to add it to their arsenal must go through extensive training, hire a medical director, and educate responders on how to administer the drug.

“I know that it is on the mind of the law enforcement community here in Shawnee County to allow this to occur and also in the first responder community,” Antrim said. “There’s talks amongst our medical director authorize those agencies who wish to have it.”

13 NEWS spoke with the Shawnee County Sheriff Herman Jones and Richard Sigle, the chief of emergency medical services for the Topeka Fire Department. Both said local agencies are meeting about the new law and discussing plans for training and implementing measures that would have more responders carrying Narcan in the future.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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