Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Herb Conaway M.D. and Joseph Lagana to reduce the number of overdose deaths from opioid abuse cleared the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee on Thursday.
“Saving more lives is what this is about,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “Opioid fatalities have become more and more prevalent over the years with the growing popularity of prescription pills and heroin. Emergency medical technicians are the first on the scene in many overdose cases. Opioid antidotes such as Naloxone are as widely used to reverse the effects of overdose as epinephrine is used in severe allergic reactions and, with training, just as simple to administer. We must give EMTs the tools they need to do their jobs – saving lives.”
The bill (A-2770) provides for the training and certification of EMTs in the administration of opioid antidotes. The bill directs the Commissioner of Health to establish the written standards and procedures that an EMT must meet in order to obtain certification.
“The number of deaths from overdose has escalated tremendously in recent years,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “EMTs are our first responders. They must be prepared to handle these situations and save every life they can. Expanding their scope and practice will enable them to help more residents in such an emergency.”
The bill provides that he commissioner would be required to certify a candidate who provides evidence of satisfactory completion of an educational program that is approved by the commissioner and includes training in the administration of opioid antidotes. The bill also requires the commissioner to maintain a registry of all persons certified to administer opioid antidotes pursuant to the bill, and to compile a list of persons who have obtained certification that will be made available to the public. Each administration of an opioid antidote under the provisions of this bill must be reported to the Department of Health.
The commissioner may revoke certification for violations of the bill.
A fee also may be charged to an enrollee in a training program to cover the cost of training and testing for certification, if the entity providing the program is not reimbursed for the cost of that training and testing from the "Emergency Medical Technician Training Fund."
In addition, the bill precludes liability for an EMT certified to administer an opioid antidote pursuant to the bill, or to a licensed physician; a hospital or its board of trustees, officers, and members of the medical staff, nurses, paramedics or other employees of the hospital; or officers and members of a first aid, ambulance, or rescue squad for any civil damages as the result of an act or the omission of an act committed while in training to administer, or in the administration of, an opioid antidote.