Innovations in Overdose Response: Strategies Implemented by Emergency Medical Services Providers
August 04, 2021
In 2020, initial estimates suggest that annual drug overdose deaths in the United States reached a record high, accounting for 93,000 deaths. Especially troubling is the fact that, despite multiple overdose prevention initiatives, fatal overdoses increased by 30% last year, the largest single-year increase in U.S. history. While the death toll continues to mount, health and public safety agencies are eager to find new ways to curb this growing epidemic. As the healthcare provider with greatest access to individuals experiencing a nonfatal drug overdose, emergency medical services (EMS) agencies play an essential role in the prevention of fatal drug overdose. For this reason, integrating EMS strategies into an overdose system of care is critically important. This report presents findings of an environmental scan conducted to identify novel or innovative EMS-involved strategies to prevent fatal overdose; discusses challenges to implementing these strategies; and suggests ways in which state health leaders can support these strategies.