Walsh wants Boston first responders to carry Narcan to combat overdoses

A construction worker was killed while on the job in East Boston on Monday night. (Credit: Devin Ford/Flickr)
All Boston first responders, not just EMS personnel, will start to carry Narcan. (Credit: Devin Ford/Flickr)

In an effort to cut down on the number of fatal drug overdoses in the city, Mayor Marty Walsh announced on Tuesday that he wants all of Boston’s first responders to begin carrying the reversal medication known as Narcan.

Between 2010 and 2012, unintentional drug overdoses increased by 39 percent in Boston, according to the mayor’s office. There was also a 76 percent increase in the rate of heroin overdoses during the same time period.

The drug naloxone, which is branded as Narcan, can act as a sort of antidote to heroin or opiate overdoses. Currently, all Boston EMS paramedics and EMTs carry and use the medication. Walsh’s plan calls for expanding the training for use of the medication to Boston police officers and firefighters.

As of last week, Boston EMS personnel had administered Narcan 52 times since the start of the year compared to 41 times during the same time period last year, according to the mayor’s office.

“There’s a stigma around drug and alcohol addiction that keeps too many people from getting the help they desperately need, and that has to change,” Walsh said. “I know the battle against addiction can’t be won alone. Increasing access to education and treatment options is one of the best things we can do to combat the stigma and give people a fighting chance at recovery.”

Additionally, the Boston Pubic Health Commission will host five community workshops on overdose prevention training that will begin in February. They will take place in neighborhoods that experience a disproportionate amount of substance abuse. The neighborhoods include: South Boston, East Boston, the South End, Dorchester and Allston-Brighton.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.


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