Opioid reversal drugs being used as precaution at crash scenes

A box of the overdose antidote Naloxone Hydrochloride sits on a counter at a Walgreens store on February 2, 2016 in New York City. Hundreds of Duane Reade and Walgreen Co. pharmacies will begin giving out the heroin antidote without a prescription across New York state as the heroin epidemic continues to spread. Naloxone, more commonly known by the brand name Narcan, can temporarily block the effects of heroin, OxyContin and other painkillers. It is estimated that one person dies every day in New York from a drug overdose.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Caption
A box of the overdose antidote Naloxone Hydrochloride sits on a counter at a Walgreens store on February 2, 2016 in New York City. Hundreds of Duane Reade and Walgreen Co. pharmacies will begin giving out the heroin antidote without a prescription across New York state as the heroin epidemic continues to spread. Naloxone, more commonly known by the brand name Narcan, can temporarily block the effects of heroin, OxyContin and other painkillers. It is estimated that one person dies every day in New York from a drug overdose. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Credit: Spencer Platt

Credit: Spencer Platt

The nation’s heroin epidemic is changing how emergency workers respond to traffic accidents.

Opioid reversal drugs, like Narcan, are being used by some first responders at crash scenes, even if they aren’t sure that they’re needed. The drugs are being given to anyone who is impaired or unresponsive as a precaution.

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“Almost any time now, if the patient’s not awake, this is one of the first things we have to ask ourselves: Is it related to a drug overdose?” Kevin Fields, a paramedic, said. “Sometimes they're slumped head down on the steering wheel. Sometimes they're slumped over sideways.”

In Warren, Ohio, EMTs gave a driver Narcan after a crash. It was later determined that the driver likely suffered a medical emergency unrelated to drugs.