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Take-home naloxone programs and calls to emergency services

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Updated advice to be given by Triple Zero call-takers is being developed

In May 2012, Australia’s first take-home naloxone program for opioid overdose prevention commenced in the Australian Capital Territory1; it was soon followed by programs in other jurisdictions. Current Australian naloxone training programs cover calling an ambulance, administering naloxone and giving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Some training programs are as short as 10 minutes, and others are as long as 2 hours, so capacity to present practical emergency management scenarios, including calls to emergency services, varies.

We are involved in the National Naloxone Reference Group (NNRG), which is run under the auspices of the Centre for Research Excellence into Injecting Drug Use. The NNRG brings together representatives involved in take-home naloxone programs from all states and territories. Currently, all programs recommend that opioid overdose responders initially call Triple Zero (000) for ambulance assistance to ensure adequate post-resuscitation care and further assessment and treatment if needed. In evaluating take-home naloxone programs, we have identified conflicts between advice given in training and advice received from emergency services. In this article, we explore the decision-making process for calling emergency services while administering life support measures and (potentially) naloxone to reverse…

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