Emergency Responders

In an emergency, calling 911 is often the first reaction people have. In the instance where 911 is called in response to an opioid related overdose, it is critical that emergency responders be trained and equipped to administer naloxone. Simply put, when emergency responders have naloxone on hand, they are able to save lives.

What is naloxone?

Naloxone is a medication that quickly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, usually within 1-3 minutes. It can be injected under the skin or into muscle or a vein. A nasal spray version of naloxone is also available. Naloxone does not have harmful side effects, get people “high,” or reverse overdoses caused by substances other than opioids.

Naloxone has been in use in the medical field for decades, but as of August 2014 it is available to all emergency responders in Missouri.

What to do when you report to the scene of an overdose:
(For complete information about respond at the scene of an overdose and administer naloxone, request a MO-HOPE Emergency Responder training *here*)

  • Assess the individual – look for signs and symptoms of an opioid/heroin overdose
  • Once you have identified that you are responding to an opioid/heroin overdose, begin rescue response (while waiting for EMS to arrive):
    1. Administer 1 dose of naloxone
    2. Administer rescue breathing (if pulse); Administer chest compressions (if no pulse)
    3. Place person in recovery position if you stop administering rescue breaths or leave the person’s side
    4. Give 2nd dose of naloxone if after 2-3 minutes the first dose was not successful* Prepare: In some cases, naloxone can precipitate withdrawals among those with physical dependence.

What to do after an overdose:

  • Remember to avoid guilt, stigma, and shame – this is not a moral issue or right vs wrong
  • Lean toward offering support, empathy, and resources for treatment rather than punishment
  • Encourage the person to seek medical treatment and care coordination at a hospital, but know they have the right to refuse this

*Information provided on this site is not intended to cover everything–there are many places to find helpful information about naloxone and overdose prevention programs. To learn more, we suggest the following sites:

*For additional information see our Resources Page or access the following links for resources for Overdose Prevention and Harm ReductionOpioid Use Disorder TreatmentResearch and Data, and Legislation and Advocacy.

An officer describes his thoughts on naloxone