Starting in March, all 50 members of Glen Cove EMS will be able to administer a drug capable of bringing overdose patients back from the brink of death thanks to a NYS Department of Health pilot program.
"This is a significant and welcome development for EMT's given the rise in prescription and illegal drug abuse throughout Long Island. If this could save just one life from a drug overdose then it's well worth the effort," said Glen Cove EMS Chief Matthew Venturino.
Naloxone, known by the brand name Narcan, is "a commonly used medication to reverse the harmful effects of narcotic overdoses," Venturino said. It is effective against both prescription and illegal opiates, including morphine, heroin, codeine, oxycodone and fentanyl.
Venturino said the medication has always been carried in the agency's ambulances but could only be administered intravenously by one of 15 advanced EMT's.
The new kits include a nasal spray that can be administered by any of the agency's 35 regular EMT members.
Venturino said at least one paramedic is on duty at all times, but the spray could be useful in two different scenarios: if an EMT arrives on the scene before a paramedic and can administer the drug faster, or if there is a second ambulance call and there is no advanced EMT on the second crew.
The drug has been credited with preventing 42 life-threatening overdoses in Suffolk County since trained police officers and EMT's began participating in the pilot program in May 2012, according to Suffolk County officials.
With the program approved for Nassau County, the kits will be carried on all Glen Cove EMS ambulances once the program is operational some time in March, Venturino said. It is being funded by the NYS Department of Health.