The Jackson Township First Aid Squad has equipped its ambulances with the opiate antidote naloxone, commonly known by the brand name Narcan®, under a waiver issued to basic life support services by the New Jersey Department of Health. The waiver was issued in response to the large number of heroin-related deaths in New Jersey, especially in Ocean County. The Squad initially held training on the new medication on April 17, and has now placed naloxone in all its ambulances and the supervisor vehicle.
Naloxone is what is called an opiate antagonist, meaning it fills the same receptor sites in the brain as opiate drugs such as heroin, morphine, or oxycontin. In cases of overdose, naloxone counteracts the effects of the opiate - most notably diminished breathing. In many cases, this can save the life of the patient by restoring normal breathing and preventing brain damage from hypoxia, or lack of oxygen in the brain. Naloxone was previously carried only by advanced life support paramedic units, but the Department of Health's waiver allows it to be carried by EMT-staffed ambulances as well. EMTs will deliver the drug via nasal spray.
Overdose related deaths, especially from heroin and other opiates, are rising alarmingly in Ocean and Monmouth Counties. In 2012, Ocean County had the highest number of overdose related deaths in the state. That number nearly doubled in 2013. The Department of Health issued the narcan waiver in response to this ongoing public health emergency.
In order to carry Narcan, ambulance services must have a medical director and register with the New Jersey Office of Emergency Medical Services. The Squad's medical director, Dr. Kenneth Lavelle, helped train other first responders in Ocean County, and is now overseeing the Squad's implementation of the program.
The Jackson Township First Aid Squad is an all-volunteer staffed, non-profit, charitable organization that has provided emergency medical services to the 101 square miles of Jackson, New Jersey since 1953. If you are interested in learning more or supporting our work, please considering joining us or making a donation.
Jackson Township First Aid Squad provides volunteer EMS service to the Township of Jackson in Ocean County, New Jersey.