In effort to save lives, Honolulu firefighters to add opioid overdose reversal drug to their trucks

All 1,100 uniformed HFD firefighters will be getting trained later this year.
Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 5:27 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 15, 2022 at 6:57 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu firefighters will soon be joining the list of first responders who can administer Narcan, a a medicine that can instantly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

All 1,100 uniformed HFD firefighters will be getting trained later this year.

Right now, they can only administer oxygen to someone who has stopped breathing as part of an opioid overdose until Emergency Medical Services arrive and dispense Narcan with advanced medical care.

But there are half the number of ambulances on the island than there are HFD vehicles.

“Geographically we have more fire stations,” said Michael Jones, HFD battalion chief.

There are 43 Honolulu fire stations with 70 apparatus. To compare, EMS has 21 ambulances. “A lot of times you’re just going to have a fire truck that’s closer,” Jones said.

The Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center will be doing the training for HFD. It takes about 30 minutes, according to Executive Director Heather Lusk.

Narcan is used to treat overdose victims
Narcan is used to treat overdose victims(WRDW)

Lusk said getting firefighters Narcan will save lives.

“We’re talking about four to five minutes of somebody not breathing,” Lusk said.

“That could lead to cognitive impairment or even death.”

The training is more than just administering a dose in the patient’s nose, it also includes recognizing the signs of an overdose and how to properly store the medicine.

On Oahu, EMS and HPD officers are trained to treat people with Narcan.

The Honolulu Emergency Services Department is also considering adding Narcan to some towers as lifeguards with Ocean Safety are reporting overdoses on or around beaches.

“We’re finding these calls to be quite frequent and more often now,” said Lt. Dennis Coglietta, of Honolulu Ocean Safety.

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