Shepler: Naloxone is already in the National EMT Scope of Practice

I was relieved to read that the San Juan Island Public Hospital District overrode the fear-based concerns of EMS Chief, Jerry Martin. As reported in your article, “he believes it is too dangerous for his EMTs to administer the pre-packaged nasal spray” (Naloxone).

With an opioid overdose breathing becomes ineffective or stops all together. You have minutes to save a life.

I believe it is dangerous to obstruct volunteer EMS participation in the Naloxone program on San Juan Island.

To quote the U.S. Surgeon General:

I, Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service, VADM Jerome Adams, am emphasizing the importance of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone. For patients currently taking high doses of opioids as prescribed for pain, individuals misusing prescription opioids, individuals using illicit opioids such as heroin or fentanyl, health care practitioners, family and friends of people who have an opioid use disorder, and community members who come into contact with people at risk for opioid overdose, knowing how to use naloxone and keeping it within reach can save a life.

To be clear, the free program allows volunteer EMTs in the community to carry a premeasured safe dose of Naloxone. The program provides training. Naloxone is already in the National EMT Scope of Practice.

Volunteer EMTs are the first to arrive, many minutes before an ambulance or Paramedic. Both may be tied up on another call, or responding from the other side of the island. Most Volunteers respond directly from home or their job; not from the station. Some Volunteers sign-up to respond to the station to get the ambulance and drive it to the call.

Naloxone programs have empowered teachers, librarians, law enforcement officers and private citizens to deploy Naloxone safely; saving lives.

San Juan Island has some great Volunteer EMTs. I was sad to read that EMS Chief, Jerry Martin, has so little faith in his own people, and is willing to say it publicly.

Patrick Shepler


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