Gundersen Tri-State Ambulance will become the first ambulance service in Wisconsin to distribute kits containing a life-saving drug to those with opioid addiction when the program launches in September.
Tri-State Ambulance paramedics or other responders will first administer naloxone in suspected drug overdose cases. Naloxone, the opiate overdose antidote, reverses the deadly effect of heroin and other opioids.
Users who are revived and refuse transport for additional care are eligible to receive a kit that includes naloxone, a mask for rescue breathing, usage instructions and information on how to get help in the community. Most overdose patients are transported to a hospital, where the kits are available.
Paramedics may also distribute the kits when responding to other medical calls if opioid abuse is known or suspected.
Research shows that distributing naloxone along with resources on how to seek help for drug addiction can reduce overdose deaths.
"Our community has seen a substantial increase in overdose deaths this year. I believe this is due to the stressors associated with COVID-19 including economic factors, isolation and difficulty obtaining traditional mental health and addiction services," said Gundersen Emergency Services physician Chris Eberlein, MD, who also serves as medical director for Tri-State. "Those factors, coupled with reluctance to visit a hospital due to COVID-19 concerns, has made the addition of a Leave Behind Overdose Safety Kit a crucial piece of the complex puzzle in our community’s response to the opiate crisis. As always, we will continually refine our response and explore novel ways to help those struggling in our community."
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