By John Burton
TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie is permitting certified emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to administer a narcotic overdose medication to patients in emergency situations.
Christie authorized a waiver, endorsed by the state Department of Health, on Friday allowing the EMTs to treat overdoes patients with Narcan, an opioid antidote, according to the governor’s office.
“Allowing first responders to administer Narcan will save lives,” Christie said in a released statement. “We want to encourage people to seek medical assistance when a drug overdose occurs. This action by the Department of Health is consistent with the Overdose Prevention Act I signed into law last year.”
That act provides civil, criminal and professional disciplinary liability under certain circumstances for health care professionals and pharmacists involved in prescribing or dispensing the medication. The act also provides some limited legal protection for non-health care professionals who administer the drug in an emergency situation.
Prior to the department of health and governor’s approval state regulations for EMTs did not include this medication.
The waiver applies to police officers who are trained EMTs.
EMTs will have to complete a department-approved training course and administer the medication according to clinical protocol.
According to the Office of the State Medical Examiner, drug-related deaths have increased from 1,026 in 2011 to 1,294 in 2012.