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Governor Nixon Signs Drug Overdose Antidote Bill

Governor Nixon signed a bill on Thursday, allowing firefighters and police to carry treatment for drug overdoses on scene.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A change is underway with how first responders handle drug overdoses.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed off on House Bill 2040; a bill that allows firefighters, and police officers, to carry Naloxone, commonly known as 'Narcan."

"This gives the responders that much clear chance, and better chance to help save their life," said Bill Lamar a training officer with the St. Joseph Fire Department.

The treatment, which only works for opioids such as heroin or prescription pain killers, was limited to paramedics before the bill was signed.

That meant first responders had to wait for EMS to arrive before treating a drug overdose.

Steve Groshong, a field training operator with Buchanan County EMS, says the antidote could make the difference between life and death.

"It reverses the effects of the opioid drug, and it completely reduces the effects. It also reduces the pain relieving effects, it also causes the patient to become conscience again, it allows them to begin breathing," Groshong said.

Because the treatment is so effective, Groshong says he is glad it will be in the hands of first responders like Lamar.

"The good thing about St. Joseph is we've got such a good relationship with the ambulance department that typically, they're really there right there with us," Lamar said.

However, both said EMS usually gets to the scene shortly after first responders.

So, as of now, they will leave the treatment up to paramedics.

"We're usually there 97 percent of the time, within 12 minutes of less anyway. So, they probably won't be carrying it," said Groshong.

House bill 2040 passed unanimously in the house and senate.

Seventeen other states also allow their first responders to carry Narcan.

The legislation goes into effect August 28.
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