Firefighters and paramedics are trained to administer Narcan

 Narcan is just another tool in the firefighter and paramedic tool box.
Narcan is just another tool in the firefighter and paramedic tool box. (KOTA)
Published: Aug. 29, 2016 at 6:00 PM CDT
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Even though many rural law officers may soon start carrying the drug Narcan for overdose emergencies, in Rapid City, the fire department has administered the opioid reversing drug for decades.

It is just another tool in their emergency tool box since the 1970s. It is carried in all Rapid City ambulances and fire engines. All staff are trained to use Narcan, but they don't use it very often.

In 2015 paramedics administered medicines 7,300 times but only used Narcan in 1 percent of those cases. The trend is holding in 2016.

"This year statistically our paramedics have administered medications just over 4,600 times and Narcan is right at 1.5 percent of those medication administrations. So it's not something we dispense frequently or often," says Lt. Jim Bussell, fire department public information officer.

Bussell says in 2016 they have run 133 overdose emergencies. Narcan was used in less than 10 percent of those calls. "So it's just another tool in the toolbox."

The drug Narcan has complications including withdrawal symptoms like vomiting, seizures and violence. He suggests you call 911 if you suspect an overdose.