To the Editor:
I’m happy to see New Jersey hospitals and police departments teaming up to save lives from opioid overdoses. Hospital systems in Camden County are the latest to announce their intention to buy the opioid reversal agent naloxone, or Narcan, in bulk and provide it at low cost to their police departments. In other counties, Union and Middlesex, for example, replacement kits have been supplied free to the police departments since the programs began in 2016.
I don’t understand, however, why EMS organizations – particularly volunteer agencies – are not included in the naloxone distribution plan.
We, too, are in the business of saving lives, but many volunteer EMS squads, which rely heavily on donations, find the cost of Narcan prohibitive. The same goes for epinephrine auto injectors (EpiPens) used to counter allergic reactions.
Emergency responders statewide should have discounted, or possibly free access to such life-saving medications for their organizations. Perhaps we can use this opportunity to start such a conversation, to help ensure lives don’t depend on whether responders can afford the antidote.
Joseph G. Walsh, Jr.
Joseph G. Walsh, Jr. is president of the 89-year-old nonprofit EMS Council of New Jersey, which represents approximately 20,000 EMS volunteers affiliated with nearly 300 EMS agencies throughout the state.