Opioid Epidemic: First Responders and EMS
To report an increase in overdoses, a potential overdose cluster, or any other unusual drug-related event, call the Georgia Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Law enforcement may access PDMP information through a search warrant or subpoena.
EMS Documentation Guidelines
The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) uses a variety of data sources to track drug overdose trends across Georgia, including EMS data. EMS services should document drug overdose-related EMS trips following these guidelines to help DPH better track and respond to the overdose epidemic.
All First Responders
Unknown opioids may consist of multiple substances in varying amounts and strengths. Examples may include heroin, morphine, fentanyl, carfentanil and others. Carfentanil and other fentanyl-related compounds are a serious danger to public safety, first responder, medical, treatment and laboratory personnel. These substances come in several forms, including powder, and they can be absorbed through the skin or through accidental inhalation of airborne powder.
Precautions for all First Responders
- Avoid handling any substances or paraphernalia, if possible
- Assume all unknown powdered drugs may contain fentanyl or its analogs
- Minimize exposure opportunities by covering bare skin
- Notify everyone in proximity of the possible presence of a dangerous drug
- Do not taste, touch, or sniff suspected drugs of any kind
- If you are alone, notify someone to ensure your safety is monitored
- Ensure naloxone is immediately available for use
- Perform risk assessments at every scene to determine exposure risk, and utilize appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
More information about fentanyl risk is available through the CDC.
Georgia has a Medical Amnesty Law, which provides limited immunity to those seeking medical attention for themselves or someone else. This immunity covers:
- Possession of certain drugs or drug paraphernalia
- Violation of probation, parole and other violations
- Illegal possession and consumption of alcohol
This law also provides civil and criminal immunity for possession and administration of Naloxone.
Naloxone Standing Order
Whenever possible, officers should carry Naloxone when responding to an event that may involve an overdose.When administering Naloxone, please note that multiple doses may be necessary.
Georgia has a Standing Order for a prescription of Naloxone for overdose prevention, which makes Naloxone available at any pharmacy, without a prescription.
First Responder Naloxone training:
- Opioid Overdose and First Responder Naloxone Administration Training
- Naloxone Toolkit for First Responders
Naloxone administration training:
For referral resources such as emergency crisis centers, drug treatment, and community service boards, please see Georgia Resources (Who to Contact?) for Law Enforcement (GA DBHDD).
Page last updated 11/21/2019