Milwaukee County fire department now offers medication aimed at preventing overdoses


The West Allis Fireplace Division is believed to be the primary hearth division within the state to supply people buprenorphine, a medicine aimed toward treating an opioid use dysfunction. 

Buprenorphine helps reduce withdrawals and might forestall overdoses. Educated members of the West Allis Fireplace Division are actually providing it when responding to an overdose, after the state authorized its use for first responders and paramedics final yr. Officers say the objective is to provide the particular person a single dose or the primary few doses of the medicine to final till they will get into long-term care. 

“That is fairly new nationally, however definitely new to Wisconsin and Milwaukee County,” stated Ben Weston, the chief well being coverage advisor for Milwaukee County. 

The medicine will be given to an individual who’s experiencing opioid withdrawal. It dissolves within the mouth and binds to the identical receptors that opioids do. It is also been authorized by the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration to deal with opioid use problems. 

“It is a very secure medicine to provide, and it is very efficient for sufferers who’re beginning on it,” Weston stated. “Briefly, what it actually does is it facilitates restoration.”

The fireplace division is partnering with Milwaukee County and the Medical School of Wisconsin in providing the medicine via a three-year, $900,000 federal grant. That cash can be getting used to pay for a peer counselor and group paramedic to assist with the work. This system comes as Milwaukee County has seen a file variety of overdose fatalities for 4 years in a row.

First responders in Milwaukee County already provide Narcan, a nasal spray that reverses opioid overdoses. However buprenorphine can be utilized to assist forestall future overdoses after Narcan is run.

Officers are hopeful buprenorphine may also assist folks get into long-term remedy, as Weston stated the objective is for the affected person who acquired the medicine to go to the hospital the place they will find out about remedy choices. However he understands that not everybody might wish to go to the hospital due to worries about funds or embarrassment.

“For these individuals who do not wish to go to the hospital, they will nonetheless get that remedy within the discipline after which the groups at West Allis Fireplace Division will work to attach them with outpatient sources, as properly,” Weston stated. 

Weston stated people who’re given the medicine are twice as more likely to keep in remedy applications for an opioid use dysfunction in comparison with those that do not take it. He additionally stated they’re much less doubtless to make use of illicit opioids and fewer more likely to overdose. 

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Medical School of Wisconsin Dr. Jennifer Hernandez-Meier stated she believes this is among the few examples of a municipal hearth division providing the medicine not solely within the state, however within the nation. 

“This necessary work gives further alternative for individuals who have an opioid use dysfunction to obtain life-saving remedy for his or her medical dysfunction,” Hernandez-Meier stated throughout a press convention saying this system.

Jeremy Triblett, a prevention supervisor with the Milwaukee County Behavioral Well being Division, stated he is excited concerning the new initiative.

“It permits folks to proceed their restoration journey in the event that they so want, the place they’re at at that second till they’re referred to a clinic or one other house that enables them to take the following step,” Triblett stated. 

The transfer is one more in an effort to curb overdose deaths, as 644 folks died of a drug overdose in Milwaukee County in 2021. 

Wisconsin noticed a 900 % improve in opioid overdose deaths from 1999 to 2018, whereas such deaths have reached file ranges in newer years. In 2021, the state Division of Well being Providers reported a file 1,427 opioid overdose deaths. 

Milwaukee County Government David Crowley signed a invoice releasing $11 million to fifteen completely different initiatives final spring to assist the problem, starting from remedy for county prisoners who’re affected by opioid use problems to merchandising machines crammed with free Narcan and fentanyl check strips.

Do you want assist? 

The Substance Abuse and Psychological Well being Providers Administration has a free, 24/7, 365-day-a-year helpline for people and households dealing with psychological and/or substance use problems. Name 800-662-HELP (4357). You can even go to their web site at

You could find the closest Narcan supplier on the Wisconsin Narcan Direct program web site at