Equipping more emergency medical service (EMS) staff to administer the opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone would go a long way toward reducing the number of overdose deaths across the country, concludes a newly published study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Published in the American Journal of Public Health, the study recommends that training in the administration of naloxone should be expanded to include all emergency service staff. As of last year, only 12 states allowed basic EMS staff to administer naloxone, leaving that task solely to advanced EMS personnel.
“Naloxone can be given nasally to a person suspected of overdose, allowing basic EMS staff to administer the drug without injection,” CDC senior health scientist Mark Faul, PhD, said in an April 24 news release.
The challenge of offering access to the overdose reversal medication appears most pressing in rural communities. According to the 2012 emergency medical data that the CDC used to examine factors associated with naloxone administration, opioid overdose death rates were 45% higher in rural areas than urban areas, but use of naloxone among rural EMS staff was only 22.5% higher than it was among their urban counterparts.