Wilmington firefighters know they have to be ready at any moment to handle whatever situation is thrown at them. Thanks to recent training, they’ll be ready for even more scenarios.
In particular, new techniques will allow firefighters to be prepared for what has unfortunately become a fairly regular trend in the community and across the nation.
As of November 1, Wilmington became the first Fire Department outside of the state’s pilot program given the authority to use Nasal Narcan if they are called to the scene of a drug overdose.
Nasal Narcan blocks opioids and and restores normal breathing when sprayed into the nose of someone who has overdosed, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Within about one minute, a patienty could be breathing and talking on their own again.
In the past, only Advance Life Support certified paramedics were able to administer Nasal Narcan, but now all firefighters are trained to do so as well. According to Depty Chief Rick McClellan, there have been 15 drug overdoses in Wilmington so far this year after 26 in 2011 and 21 in 2010.
“I think this is critical,” said McClellan. “Anything we can do to deliver better patient care, we want to do. This allows a reversal of the overdose and allows them to start breathing on their own again.”
In addition to the Nasal Narcan, firefighters have also been trained and equipped to use a nebulizer, which can help asthma patients having an attack. Also, firefighters can now use glucometry to test a patient’s blood sugar levels with a prick of the finger.
McClellan said the department is always looking to be at the beginning of the trend in terms of new technology and training.
“It’s a win win for everyone,” said McClellan. “There’s nothing more distressing than going on a medical call and there’s a child having a hard time breathing and there’s nothing we can do but give them oxygen. Now we can give them a nebulizer, and it’s just a better way to provide care.”