As the opioid crisis sweeps the Country, state and local governments are looking for ways to curb the abuse of opioids as well as making it easier to access the lifesaving medication, naloxone (Narcan), an opioid antagonist, which means that it blocks the action of opioid medications such as morphine and related drugs.
Missouri is the only state in the nation without a statewide prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). Once again during the 2017 legislative session, the Missouri legislature failed to produce a PDMP bill. Many cities and counties have taken it upon themselves to initiate their own PDMP’s, but this is just one method to attempt to reign in the rampant abuse of opioids and its devastating consequences in our communities.
Another means of addressing the opioid crisis involves putting naloxone in the hands of first responders, such as police officers and firefighters who are often the first one on the scene of an opioid overdose.
Missouri Statute 190.255 grants the authority for any qualified first responder to obtain and administer naloxone to a person suffering from an apparent narcotic or opiate-related overdose in order to revive the person.
Qualified first responders must act under the directives and established protocols of the medical director of a local ground ambulance service licensed under Missouri Statute 190.109. Qualified first responders must receive training in recognizing and responding to a narcotic or opiate overdose, including the administration of naloxone to a person suffering from an apparent narcotic or opiate-related overdose.
At its Tuesday meeting, the Callaway County Ambulance District’s Board of Directors took the first step to establish a program to allow first responders to administer naloxone with the passage of Ordinance 2017-001, which outlines the requirements for first responders to administer naloxone. Under Ordinance 2017-001, the District will be responsible for establishing the necessary protocol and providing training for first responder agencies wishing to use naloxone. The District will provide oversight and review all cases where a qualified first responder administers naloxone.
First responder agencies wishing to carry and use naloxone, will be required to sign a memorandum of understanding with the District.
The District has had preliminary discussions with several first responder agencies in the County and there is a definite interest in this program.
“Our next step will be to contact those agencies who expressed interest and begin the process of getting a signed MOU and then providing the required training”, said Director Charles after Tuesday's meeting.
The District’s medical director, James Stevermer, who has been a champion for this program, told the board members, “Once implemented, this program will save lives in our community”.
In a separate vote, the Board of Directors approved purchasing naloxone for those first responder agencies who agree this year to participate.