Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is frequently called in cases of drug overdose or withdrawal.
When an ambulance responds to a 911 call for overdose, paramedics administer treatment to prevent the patient from dying but do not provide medication to address the underlying addiction. This is a critical missed opportunity because 20% of patients treated for a non-fatal overdose will die within the next year. CA Bridge is working to engage EMS agencies and personnel in the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD) and the prevention of opioid overdose.
Treatment of OUD with buprenorphine (bup) has been demonstrated to reduce relapse and overdose. California is moving towards making the initiation of bup treatment the standard of care in all hospital emergency departments. Starting bup in the field during a 911 call is a further innovation that has the potential to bring more patients into care at a critical moment. OUD treatment can be started in the field through a pilot project based on a scope of practice waiver. Currently, Contra Costa County has obtained this waiver, and CA Bridge is looking to support other EMS agencies to join this pilot. Get started with these tools:
3. Engaging Patients Through Motivational Interviewing
EMS personnel encounter many people who use drugs, and these interactions can be challenging. By learning the techniques of “motivational interviewing,” first responders can greatly improve their effectiveness in turning these interactions into positive opportunities to build trust, practice harm reduction, and, in some cases, engage patients in treatment. Download this Motivational Interviewing Techniques Training and watch the video below to learn some basic techniques.