BOSTON — Mayor Martin Walsh on Tuesday called for all first responders in Boston to carry the heroin overdose reversal medication known as Narcan.
All emergency medical technicians and paramedics from Boston EMS already carry the medication and have used it to reverse numerous overdoses. Walsh said he wants the Boston Public Health Commission to train Boston police and firefighters so that all first responders have access to the medication.
The drug counteracts the effects of heroin and other opioids. It’s been used by ambulance crews and emergency rooms for decades. In recent years, public health officials around the country have been distributing it to addicts, their loves ones, and some police and fire departments.
State health officials said the Narcan nasal spray distribution program has stopped more than 2,000 overdoses in Massachusetts since 2007.
Walsh made his proposal while announcing a series of community-based workshops that will offer overdose prevention training, information on how to access Narcan and the opportunity to meet with neighborhood substance abuse coalitions.
The mayor’s office said unintentional drug overdoses increased by 39 percent in Boston between 2010 and 2012. As of last week, Boston EMS had administered Narcan 52 times since the beginning of the year, compared to 41 times in the same period in 2013.
Sgt. Michael McCarthy, a spokesman for the Boston Police Department, said he expects the proposal will be discussed with leaders from the city’s three police unions.
“Discussions are planned with them, but we’re pretty confident that it’s going to be implemented,” McCarthy said.
“Our EMS people, they carry it and have for quite some time,” he said. “Right now, it’s being looked at as another tool that the mayor wants to add to all first responders.”