Nelson County, Virginia
The Wintergreen Rescue Squad has completed an initiative to equip every ambulance in Nelson County with “Nasal Narcan” to save lives of persons who have either intentionally or accidentally overdosed on opioids.
According to Chief of EMS Operations Mike Riddle, Nelson County hasn’t seen an uptick in opioid-related medical calls. Nonetheless, the national data suggests it could become a problem.
Riddle says, “A severe opioid overdose doesn’t afford you much time to react. The patient needs Narcan, and they need it quickly. Without it, they may stop breathing”
Every ambulance in the region has carried Narcan for quite some time, however in a different form. Nasal Narcan can be given by virtually any first-responder regardless of their training level. In the past only Advanced Providers could administer Narcan via injection.
Chief of Wintergreen Fire & Rescue, Curtis Sheets stated the grant to provide the Narcan kits came from the Virginia Department of Health, Office of EMS. Specifically, there is a program called Rescue Squad Assistance Fund designed to assist with these types of initiatives.
According to Sheets, “For this particular initiative it was just as easy for us to go ahead an apply to equip every ambulance in the County as it would have been to have only focused on our fleet.”
Typically grants through the Virginia Office of EMS require the applicant to match a portion of the funding. In an effort to get out in front of the opioid crisis, Virginia is offering rare 100% funding.