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First Responders Now Permitted to Administer Heroin Overdose Antidote

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Time is precious when saving the lives of those who overdose on heroin. Currently, paramedics can administer the Naloxone or Narcan, a drug which can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose. A bill signed by Governor Jay Nixon will add first responders to those who can administer the drug.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Time is precious when saving the lives of those who overdose on heroin.Currently, paramedics can administer the Naloxone or Narcan, a drug which can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose.

Governor Jay Nixon signed House Bill 2040, which adds first responders, firefighters, police, and emergency medical personnel, to those who can administer the drug.

Jordan Embree is the Field Supervisor at Cox Health EMS and says Naloxone is crucial to the survival of a person who overdoses on heroin.

"Narcan is an opioid antagonist, which is like a reversal agent for opioid," said Embree.

In less than 30 seconds, the Narcan kicks in and a person is revived. Embree says time is of the essence.

"Once they stop breathing, there's not much time left to intervene before you have to do much more advanced care," he said.

Embree said first responders are often the first on the scene of a heroin overdose call, so in such cases, they'll be able to respond more quickly.

"I think it can be very helpful. It's a very easy drug to administer," said Embree.

"There's very few contraindications for the drug itself and time is everything in medicine, so getting there faster-- they're usually much closer to the patient in some cases and they can get there faster to administer it."

Many hospitals like Cox store Narcan in tightly secured medical dispensers. But a provision in the bill will now allow pharmacies to sell the drug to qualified medical responders.

Hartwell Menefee J. counsels heroin addicts on coping skills at Clarity Recovery.

He said multiple overdoses are common for addicts and supports greater access to the life-saving drug.

"If we can help them in the field, rather than wait until the E.R. where they might have died or coded in the emergency vehicle, I think it's a great idea that they were able to be helped out in the field," said Menefee Jr.

Hembree and Menefee Jr. said both the hospital and recovery center have seen a steady rise in heroin overdoses in Southwest Missouri.

Supporters of the law said it has the potential to save life-saving minutes.
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