Governor says action could save lives by allowing law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians to utilize highly effective heroin antidote.
Gov. Jay Nixon today joined firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency medical technicians at High Ridge Fire Department Station No.3 to sign House Bill 2040, which permits Missouri first responders to obtain and administer a highly effective heroin overdose antidote.
"This legislation can save precious, life-saving minutes by putting an effective heroin overdose antidote directly into the hands of trained law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians," Gov. Nixon said. "Missouri first responders have a track record of saving lives in all types of emergencies. This will allow them to provide additional critical assistance as they respond to heroin overdoses."
Currently in Missouri, only paramedics with an order from their medical directors can stock and administer the overdose antidote, known as naloxone (na-LOCK-sewn), in heroin overdose cases. When administered in time, a single dose of naloxone can reverse an overdose of heroin or legally prescribed opioid pain medication and prevent the life-threatening symptoms. Naloxone can be administered through a syringe, nasal spray or an auto-injector. House Bill 2040 permits first responders to administer the drug by the method for which they have received training. The bill also authorizes any licensed drug distributor or pharmacy in Missouri to sell the drug to qualified first responder agencies.
"Our department regularly responds to overdose calls where having the heroin antidote might have made the difference between life and death," High Ridge Fire Department Chief Mike Arnhart said. "Having the antidote on-board our apparatus would allow us to provide immediate life-saving action, particularly in rural areas where it takes longer for an ambulance to arrive on scene. We will be considering obtaining the antidote and training our firefighters to administer it."
A recent national trend of rising heroin overdose deaths across demographic groups has been reflected in Missouri. The number of heroin overdose deaths in the state doubled from111 in 2008 to 222 in 2011, before declining somewhat in 2012 (194) and 2013 (187).
House Bill 2040 had overwhelming bi-partisan support, passing unanimously in both the House and Senate. With the Governor's signature, the legislation takes effect Aug. 28, 2014.
In addition to House Bill 2040, Gov. Nixon today also signed into law the following bills related to public safety:
Senate Bill 767 and House Bill 1426, which enact provisions related to the disclosure of personally identifying information from a voluntary registry of persons with health-related ailments to assist individuals in case of a disaster or emergency;
Senate Bill 773, which allows first responders to drive ground ambulances in certain emergency situations;
Senate Bill 852, which establishes a framework for mutual aid in certain emergency situations by law enforcement in nine Missouri counties that border Kansas;
House Bill 1190, which establishes the Facilitating Business Rapid Response to State Declared Disasters Act;
House Bill 1300, which allows fire protection district board of directors to meet without public notice in order to disburse funds necessary for the deployment of certain task forces;
House Bill 1504, which protects certain voter-approved taxes from being diverted away from their intended use funding emergency communications systems and other public services toward tax increment financing (TIF).