Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro today announced that beginning July 1, 2014, more than 2,000 FDNY Firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) will now be capable of administering intranasal Naloxone – a life-saving medication used to treat patients suffering from the effects of an overdose of heroin or prescription opioid drug use. They will be joining the 905 Paramedics who have already done so more than 3,200 times this year – an increase of 15 percent more than the entirety of the previous year.
“With the growing number of patients suffering from overdoses of both legal and illegal drugs, it is our duty as the providers of pre-hospital care in New York City to expand our ability to save lives with this treatment,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. “FDNY Paramedics have already carried naloxone for years, and now, by putting this tool in the hands of our Firefighters and EMTs, we know we will save many more lives.”
In January, the New York State Department of Health created a special protocol for the FDNY’s EMTs and Firefighters to carry and administer intranasal naloxone. Training began in March, and all 205 FDNY Engine Companies and Basic Life Support (BLS) Ambulances staffed by EMTs, will carry this treatment when responding to serious medical emergencies, including calls where patients exhibit symptoms of drug overdose. These units are often the first to arrive on-scene of a medical emergency making them best suited to administer this time-sensitive intervention.
Naloxone – popularly known by its brand name Narcan – is administered when an opioid overdose is suspected. Opioids are narcotic pain relievers that are completely or partially synthetic, including both legal and illegal drugs like heroin, codeine and oxycodone. Patients suffering from opioid overdoses can experience decreased breathing, constricted pupils, aspiration, and altered mental status; and in many cases overdoses become fatal. Administering naloxone will rapidly reverse the effects of opioid drug overdoses, giving FDNY units the critical time needed to transport the patient to the hospital.
Paramedics have been carrying naloxone for more than 40 years, including all FDNY Paramedics following the merger of FDNY and EMS in 1996.