With opioid addiction and overdose deaths on the rise, the demand for solutions is growing. As a result, the use of Narcan (brand name naloxone) has been made more widely available in communities across the United States. Many, although not all, states allow EMTs to carry and administer Narcan. But naloxone should not necessarily be a first responder’s first response.
Naloxone is administered via injection or nasal spray, and causes instantaneous opioid withdrawal. It is meant to be given when a patient is unresponsive and not breathing. While intranasal use is not FDA-approved, it is effective and safer for patients and first responders than intravenous or intermuscular administration.
Pressure to administer Narcan is intense, which can make split-second decision making by first responders and EMTs even more difficult. Education on Narcan administration is becoming more widespread because emergency personnel are the first line of defense against death from overdose.
Responding to a call without details about why a person is unconscious is challenging and can be frustrating. Reaching for naloxone as a first course of treatment can be tempting.
“When a victim is merely decreased in alertness, but able to maintain an airway and is regularly breathing, abrupt administration of naloxone can precipitate unnecessary opiate withdrawal,” according to an article at EMS World.
The responsibility of first responders is to provide the best pre-hospital care in their power, not pass judgement on those who are addicted to certain drugs.
Safely teach students in EMS programs to assess and treat for overdose with Demo Dose® Naloxon Hydrochlorid (Narcn) bristoject kit from Pocket Nurse®. A refill is also available. To teach IM administration of naloxone, we offer a Demo Dose vial as well. Call 800-225-1600 or visit www.PocketNurse.com for more information. Demo Dose simulated medications are for educational use only, not for human or animal use.