Is Narcan the Answer?

There has been a lot of talk recently in social media and the news about leaving Narcan behind after a reversal of an opioid overdose. A new voluntary program in Pittsburgh, PA allows the state to pay for Narcan atomizers that EMS can leave with friends and family of OD patients. The media buzz revolves around the idea that we are enabling this cycle of addiction; “There is some pushback that maybe you’re enabling the problem a little bit, but at least in the short term, reduce the chances that person is going to die and you create more opportunities to get them into treatment,” said Mark Pinchalk, patient care coordinator for Pittsburgh EMS.” (Media, 2018, para. 3) I agree with Mr. Pinchalk that as an EMS Provider we are not there to judge, we are there to render aid. One of my early instructors said, “Scott, your purpose is to leave the patient better than the way you found them.” I have taken that long ago statement to heart ever since, trying to leave the patient better than the way I found them whether that is medically as in a Diabetic whose blood glucose I raise from 20mg/dl to (more…)

AAA Members Serve in Disaster Relief

Expedited Application Processing to Join Federal Disaster Response We are seeing unprecedented, catastrophic flooding in Texas and it looks as though disaster response efforts could potentially continue for the foreseeable future. American Medical Response (AMR), has been a member of the AAA since 1992. The AMR Office of Emergency Management (OEM), within its national ambulance contract as the Federal EMS provider has responded to the state of Texas in its role as the FEMA prime contractor. The company has engaged a number of EMS companies who have responded to the Hurricane Harvey deployment. Many AAA member companies are disaster subcontractors for AMR and have proudly responded to federally-declared disasters since 2007. Because of the potential protracted length of this storm and recovery efforts, AMR is now processing new applications to augment its existing operations. To help with those efforts, AAA wants to extend information about becoming a network provider for AMR. If your organization is interested in applying, please use this PDF application. When officially deployed by AMR as a subcontractor, EMS providers are compensated portal-to-portal. During deployments, lodging, subsistence, and fuel may be provided. If not provided, EMS subcontractors will be reimbursed for approved expenses. We recognize that many EMS (more…)

Fentanyl Increasingly Dangerous to First Responders

The explosion of the opioid epidemic that is responsible for thousands of overdoses and deaths is a consistent problem that EMS and law enforcement encounter on an almost daily basis. Usually, the victims of these powerful drugs, such as heroin and fentanyl, are opioid users, who EMS personnel and law enforcement are regularly called to assist. However, first responders are also being warned about the increased risks they face of being exposed to these deadly drugs, specifically fentanyl—a popular synthetic opioid that is 40 to 50 times more powerful than heroin. To respond to these dangers, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released a field guide called “Fentanyl: A Brief Guide for First Responders” for EMS and police who find themselves responding to opioid-related calls. “We need everybody in the United States to understand how dangerous this is,” Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg warned. “Exposure to an amount equivalent to a few grains of sand can kill you.” The warnings have become more urgent in recent months due to numerous cases of accidental overdoses and exposures involving EMS and police. In May, Chris Green, a police officer with the East Liverpool Police Department, was accidentally exposed to fentanyl during a routine traffic stop after he inadvertently ingested the drug through his skin. Green needed four shots (more…)

HHS to Administer $70 million in Funds to Combat Opioid Crisis

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced $70 million in grants to help communities and health care professionals combat the ongoing opioid crisis that is ravaging communities across the U.S. The majority of the money will be used to help prevent opioid-induced deaths and to provide treatment for people with opioid use disorders, including $28 million allotted for medication-based treatment. More than 33,000 lives were claimed in 2015 due to opioid overdoses. $41.7 million of the funding is set to expand resources and training for first responders on how to use emergency treatments, such as Narcan, to help reverse and treat overdoses. In many cases, first responders are often the difference between life and death for opioid users who experience an overdose, so it is imperative health care professionals have access to the needed resources and training to help save lives. The additional funding aims to help paramedics, EMTs and other emergency service personnel gain access to much-needed resources. “The grants we announce today clearly demonstrate our efforts to meet the opioid crisis with every tool at our disposal,” said Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Kana Enomoto. “The evidence-based training, medication, and behavioral therapies provided here will save lives and help people with addictions (more…)

Ransomware: A Ticking Time Bomb for Health Care

By Cindy Elbert President, Cindy Elbert Insurance Services, Inc If you’re doing business online, you need cyber-insurance. This fact was never made truer than on May 12, 2017 when 50,000 businesses in at least 74 countries were hit by a ransomware attack code named “WannaCry”. Hackers demanded companies to pay a $300 ransom fee or their files would be published on the Internet. The data thieves targeted mostly hospitals and other medical facilities because their data not only included names, home addresses, addiction histories, financial information and religious affiliations but also disclosed patients’ mental health and medical diagnoses, HIV statuses and sexual assault and domestic violence reports. A gold mine of personal information for those with dark purposes. Two days earlier, a data breach at the Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center in New York compromised the medical records of at least 7,000 people. According to NBC News, “Leaks from the Rsync servers, which transfer and synchronize files across systems, are common. How many more nude photos of patients or ultrasound images will be exposed because of misconfigured Rsync backups?” On May 4, 2017, a group calling themselves TheDarkOverload uploaded almost 180,000 stolen patient/medical records from three companies onto the Internet because (more…)

Spotlight: SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital STARS Program

The Special Needs Tracking & Awareness Response System (STARS), was founded just over two years ago at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon’s Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. The team at Cardinal Glennon realized that they needed to do something to address the growing number of children in the U.S. with special health care needs, many of whom are at a higher risk for repeated ambulance transports. As an EMT for over 18 years, Patricia Casey, the Missouri Coordinator of the STARS Program, knows how intimidating it can be for a first responder to walk into a home that in many ways may look like a hospital room. Children with special health care needs can require many different types of in home medical equipment that first responders are often not familiar with. The STARS Program aims to make the job of the first responders easier while making children with medical needs and their parents more comfortable with ambulances in case they need to be transported in one. Cardinal Glennon works with local ambulance districts to enroll children with special medical needs in that district’s STAR Program. Once a child is registered in STARS, they are given a unique patient identification number (more…)

Pledge of Support to the Office of Homeland Security

AAA Board of Directors Resolution Whereas, the American Ambulance Association (AAA) represents ambulance services across the United States that participate in serving more than 95% of the urban U.S. population with emergency and non-emergency care and medical transportation services, and Whereas, AAA members play a key role in our nation’s homeland security as a first responder, and Whereas, the members of the American Ambulance Association work closely with their community’s local emergency response services such as fire and rescue, hospitals, public health, long-term care and other community-based health care organizations, and Whereas, the nation’s Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians are highly trained health care professionals on the front line everyday participating in the pre-hospital safety net for people all across America, therefore, Be it resolved that the AAA Board of Directors, on behalf of its membership and the ambulance industry across the United States, does hereby pledge its commitment to the Office of Homeland Security, and its Director Tom Ridge, to assist in the planning and implementation of various homeland security operations within our area of expertise. Adopted November 17, 2001 By the American Ambulance Association Board of Directors

Call for Affirmation of Ambulance Services Vital Role in Disaster Response

AAA Board of Directors Resolution Whereas, during a catastrophic disaster, act of terrorism or other public health threat, local ambulance services are an essential resource and a vital part of the emergency response system, and Whereas, dramatic evidence of this critical role was the quick response of ambulance services immediately following the terrorists attacks on September 11, 2001, and Whereas, the American Ambulance Association (AAA) represents ambulance services across the United States that participate in serving more than 95% of the urban U.S. population with emergency and non-emergency care and medical transportation, and Whereas, especially during this time of heightened alert, affirming the role of the nation’s ambulance services in the local, state and federal homeland security planning and response is essential, therefore Be it resolved that the AAA Board of Directors, on behalf of its membership and the ambulance industry across the United States, does hereby recommend the following… Safety of ambulance service personnel and patients, and the security of ambulance facilities, supply inventories and vehicles; Effective use of ambulance resources benefiting the patients and communities we serve; Integration of local ambulance services into emergency management including: 1) mitigation, 2) preparedness, 3) response, and 4) recovery; Timely cost reimbursement (more…)