JP First Responders: Boston EMS faces increase in heroin calls

Heroin addiction has increasingly become an issue for Boston, as illustrated by a report on substance abuse released last month at the Dimock Community Health Center that found Boston EMS responding to more heroin-related calls.

The report, “Addiction and Recovery Services in the City of Boston,” says that Boston EMS had a 25 percent increase in heroin-specific emergency response calls from January to November of 2013.

Boston EMS spokesperson Megan McClaire told the Gazette that “drug addiction has a widespread effect on the overall health of our city.”

But, asked for Jamaica Plain-specific overdose numbers, McClaire said that the department cannot provide such information because as a medical provider, it is “legally responsible for protecting private data.”

“The neighborhood-level data is generally small in numbers, and sharing that level of data creates a compliance issue,” she said. “Furthermore, from a research perspective, sharing the raw number as it is currently collected doesn’t give the full picture of the issue for a neighborhood, as it doesn’t adjust for population size or the at-risk population.”

McClaire said that Boston EMS is working through a citywide effort to help combat addiction, prevent overdoses and educate families and the community.

“By offering youth coalitions and community prevention initiatives, such as the Narcan program, we are empowering residents to interrupt the cycle of addiction,” she said.

Narcan is a drug that counters the effects of heroin. McClaire said that all Boston EMS paramedics, EMTs and Boston Fire Department firefighters have been trained to administer Narcan and that training for the Boston Police Department is currently happening.

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