News, Training

Wisconsin Launches Naloxone Pilot Program

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is launching a pilot program to help Emergency Medical Services battle patient narcotic overdoses in Wisconsin by allowing all Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) to administer Naloxone, a drug that counters the effects of an opioid overdose from heroin or a prescription opioid such as hydrocodone. Currently in Wisconsin, only Advanced Life Support (ALS) EMTs can use Naloxone with these patients.

“Early intervention is critical when someone has overdosed, so making Naloxone available to these front-line providers is an important part of efforts to reduce deaths related to narcotic overdose,” said Karen McKeown, State Health Officer.

Narcotic abuse is increasing in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of people aged 12 and older who have used heroin in the past year rose from 373,000 in 2007 to 669,000 in 2012. In addition, the CDC found that nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses are caused by prescription painkillers–also called opioid pain relievers.

This pilot program aligns with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) “15×15” challenge to reduce – by 15 percent by 2015 – the rate of nonmedical use and the number of unintentional overdose deaths involving controlled prescription drugs.

The one-year pilot includes education and training to EMTs under the guidance of their service medical director. The final report on the pilot’s outcomes will be released in early 2015. If the outcomes are favorable, a statewide roll-out will be implemented.

The following services have been accepted to participate.