Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki and Fire Chief Michael Donohue today announced that Wilmington Fire Department personnel have begun carrying naloxone, also known as NarcanTM, a nasal spray medication that reverses the effects of opiates. The decision to allow City fire personnel to administer the medication followed passage last month of a state law allowing public safety workers in Delaware to administer the potentially life-saving drug without legal liability.
The Mayor and Chief said Wilmington is now in a position to do more to address the ongoing statewide opioid epidemic. “The men and women of the Wilmington Fire Department could find themselves in a position to deal with this public health crisis at any time and we want them to be ready,” said Mayor Purzycki, “because we know that naloxone saves lives. I commend Chief Donohue and Battalion Chief John Looney for their leadership in having the law amended.”
“We were eager to expand our role in addressing the current epidemic,” said Chief Donohue. “Firefighters are often first on the scene for cardiac arrest calls involving overdoses. Permitting our first responders to administer NarcanTM allows us to be more proactive in this fight against a terrible epidemic,” Donohue continued.
According to Chief Donohue, 153 City fire personnel have been trained in the use of NarcanTM. The medication, supplied to the City by Saint Francis Hospital, is carried on all fire apparatus and in staff vehicles. Personnel were trained by the Wilmington Fire Department’s Training Division in conjunction with the Delaware Office of Emergency Medical Services.
Governor John Carney signed Senate Bill 147 into law on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, making public safety personnel – including volunteer firefighters and other emergency responders – immune from lawsuits in their efforts to save a life by administering the overdose-reversing medication.
Under the previous law, the opiate antidote naloxone could only be administered by peace officers and participants in the Community-Based Naloxone Access Program, such as paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) on ambulances. The new law took effect immediately. Lay persons administering NarcanTM were already protected under Delaware’s Good Samaritan Law, passed in 2013.
According to the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), 345 people died from drug overdoses in Delaware last year. Hundreds more overdosed but did not die, thanks in large part to naloxone and a law that permitted pharmacists to distribute the drug over-the-counter without legal liability.
Source: City of Wilmington