Wilmington firefighters are now carrying the overdose antidote Naloxone in all staff vehicles.
Gov. Carney signed a bill last month allowing firefighters to administer the lifesaving medicine, also known by its brand name Narcan, to people suffering from an overdose.
Previously, it had only been legal for peace officers, paramedics and EMTs to administer Narcan. Lay people are also allowed to use it to help an overdose patient under the Good Samaritan Act. But, the language in the law could’ve been interpreted to exclude firefighters from this list and subject them to lawsuits if they issued a patient Narcan.
249 people died from drug overdoses in New Castle County last year. Wilmington Fire Chief Michael Donahue says the change will save lives.
“It was kind of frustrating that we weren't allowed. So now we are allowed. It expands the service that we get to deliver to the city of Wilmington and it’s definitely going to save some lives,” said Donahue.
The Wilmington Fire Department does respond to some medical calls, and Donahue says sometimes they arrive on the scene before paramedics and EMS.
“Prior to us being able to give Narcan, if we got there first all we could do was provide respiratory support for the patient, or possibly even CPR, until the ambulance or the paramedics got there to give the dose of Narcan,” he said.
St. Francis Hospital is supplying the department with Narcan and Donahue says all firetrucks and other staff vehicles will be equipped with at least two doses.
Donahue says all fire department staff were trained on how to administer it earlier this year.