New program allows Arizona first responders to give naloxone kits to community members
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The Arizona Department of Health Services says over 200 Arizonans have died from opioids this year, and now the state is coming up with ways for the community to get their hands on the medication that can save someone’s life.
A new program will now allow first responders to leave kits with people. The kits contain medication that can reverse an opioid overdose. Through a federal grant called the Leave Behind Program, the Arizona Department of Health Services, or ADHS, will be giving out more than 3,000 naloxone kits this year to EMS and first responder agencies across the state at no cost. They will then pass those kits on to people in the community.
Brett Poliakon is an EMS captain with the Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority. It’s the largest emergency service provider in Yavapai County. They recently received hundreds of naloxone kits from ADHS as part of their Leave Behind Program. It allows first responders to leave behind pre-packaged naloxone with people while they’re on calls. They can also be picked up at fire stations. “It is the first line to the defense of the opioid crisis,” he said. “They’re designed to prevent future or potential for opioid overdoses.”
According to ADHS, there have been 244 confirmed opioid deaths in Arizona this year, 1,928 in 2022, 2,015 in 2021, and 1,886 in 2020. The CDC says another person was present in nearly 40% of overdose deaths nationwide. “That shows that 40% could have had the reversal agent of an overdose or potential reversal agent and that could have saved that individuals life,” Poliakon said.
In the kit is the same medication a first responder would give, just a different administration route. “There’s two little nasal administrations,” he said. “It’s almost like taking an allergy medication.”
Poliakon believes this is a way for the community to act fast and possibly save someone’s life. “You never know what kind of instance you might run into, and to have that resource readily available is huge and this little simple device can change someone life dramatically and save it in a lot of cases,” Poliakon said.
The kits are free, and Poliakon says they don’t need to be refrigerated. They can be kept inside a backpack or your car. He also says they have a good shelf life. Their most recent batch of medication doesn’t expire until August 2025.
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