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EMS Officer Jonathan Wolff displays an EMS bag and Narcan kit. The Narcan kit, which can be used to reverse an opioid overdose, is stowed in the bag on the truck with other EMS supplies. (Photo by Mary Elliot )
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With opioid overdoses on the rise across the shoreline, Madison firefighters have taken steps to ensure they are prepared to address the crisis in town. Throughout the month of September, all firefighters completed training classes in the distribution of naloxone, also known as Narcan, to prepare for overdoes cases.
Naloxone is a medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The medication will now be carried on response vehicles from both volunteer fire departments in town. North Madison Volunteer Fire Company Deputy Chief David Cone said all emergency medical technicians (EMT) and emergency medical responders (EMR) must be trained in the use of the medication before it can be carried on the response vehicles.
“We ran a total of three sessions to get everybody trained,” he said. “It is a one-hour training. It was developed by the state so essentially every EMT and EMR in the state is getting the same training so everyone is taking the same approach to this.”
The state office of EMS recently granted approval for EMS first-responder agencies to carry naloxone. Cone said distributing the medication is fairly straightforward and all firefighters had a chance to practice.
“The syringe devices that we use to give the medication are actually very simple to use,” he said. “We bought two little trainer devices that are exactly the same as the real device that you just refill with water so that the guys could practice without using up the actual medication. Everybody in the class practiced with the device—how to assemble it, how to actually give it so that they are ready to go in the field.”
EMS Coordinator Jon Wolff said the department had responded to a heroin overdose the first week of September—before the training had been completed.
“Madison EMS arrived only a few minutes after we did, and the patient did fine, but we could have given the Narcan ourselves had it been available,” he said. “We’re now fully prepared for the next overdose call, thanks to this new initiative.”
Cone said this new training allows firefighters across town to respond instantly to an overdose.
“We are ready anytime,” he said. “So if for some reason the ambulance is delayed getting up to us or even if we just happen to get there first, we have the medication.”
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