Burden of overdose calls: Is not responding an option?

Although financially it’s a losing proposition, first responders in the Valley say it’s their job to answer all calls that might come in – no matter what


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Although financially it’s a losing proposition, first responders in the Valley say it’s their job to answer all calls that might come in – no matter what.

Just last week, a councilman in Middletown, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati, said his community is running out of money to pay for the overdose-reversing drug Narcan because of so many repeat victims.

“If you are going to come to Middletown and buy your drugs, you better get out of town because if you have an overdose, we might not come,” Middletown Councilman Dan Picard said last month during an interview.

Picard is proposing medics not respond to suspected overdose patients who have done it twice before.

Mineral Ridge Police Chief Randy Pugh, who also runs LifeTrans Ambulance, said that thinking is just not an option.

“Wherever he got that idea, it is not going to fly,” Pugh said. “There is nobody in the Mahoning Valley or anywhere in Northeast Ohio, as far as I am concerned, that would ever entertain not responding,” Pugh said.

Pugh said the licenses of paramedics would be on the line if they didn’t respond, saying they all take an oath to provide care.

Chief Chip Comstock with the Western Reserve Fire District knows something about the law and the obligations of first responders. He is also an attorney.

“I am not sure this, when you look at the ethics and morality behind it, is the right decision,” Comstock said. “They are going to have to change the liability laws to make it very clear that there would be no liability for withholding treatment.”

Although Pugh admits his company loses money in manpower and supplies answering overdose calls, both he and Comstock insist not responding is not an option.

“There is no way I would do that and I wouldn’t advise my clients to do that either” Comstock said.

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