EMS Physicians Endorse First Responder Opioid Safety Guidance Developed by Major U.S. Toxicology Orgs

The National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP) announces its endorsement of a new American College of Medical Toxicology (ACMT) and American Academy of Clinical Toxicology (AACT) document detailing pragmatic and actionable safety precautions for first responders in opioid overdose situations.

NAEMSP is an organization of physicians and other professionals partnering to provide leadership and foster excellence in the subspecialty of EMS medicine. In pursuing its mission to improve out-of-hospital emergency medical care, NAEMSP’s Executive Board and Standards and Clinical Practice Committee voted unanimously to endorse the opioid safety guidance. This crucial document enables an appropriate and measured communication of risk, allowing first responders to understand their genuine risk of exposure and avoid unnecessary fear or over-preparing to a point where they’re impaired in performing their job.

“NAEMSP wholly endorses this impressive and highly-anticipated document and we will share it with our members and build on it with actionable guides that will be available for free to the public,” said Dr. Brent Myers, President of NAEMSP. “It’s important that our community act upon the most recent and best quality evidence available to us right now, as well as to stay vigilant and prepared to revise our procedures and advise our members as we continue to develop knowledge about dangerous substances.”

Over the last year, ACMT and AACT, two key U.S. toxicology organizations, developed the document to satisfy a remarkable surge of first responder requests for fact-based opioid response safety guidance. The influx of such requests stemmed from the opioid crisis’ dramatic rise in impact and publicity, punctuated by potentially disputable accidental contact overdose reports, and the sincere desire of first responders to be able to balance protecting themselves while being able to render life-saving care to victims of this epidemic. The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) also endorses the document, solidifying support from all three major U.S. toxicology associations.

“A practical, fact-based guidance helps first responders maintain a proportional response to high-stress situations, such as responding to an emergency fentanyl overdose,” said Dr. Charles McKay, President of ACMT. “We really wanted to provide scientific data that would balance the risk of exposure with any undue concern that would prevent first responders from performing their jobs.”

Committed to the safety of first responders, NAEMSP will continue to ensure its members are informed on all pertinent safety measures. The association’s Standards & Clinical Practice Committee has organized a task force to assist NAEMSP members by enhancing this position statement with actionable “how-to” guides and additional circumstance-specific guidances, such as for air transport EMS.

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