Overdose Response for First Responders

As fatal and non-fatal overdoses in Idaho continue to climb, first responders must be equipped with the knowledge and resources to address the rising rates. Find information on opportunities for first responders to address overdose in Idaho below. 

Illicit drug supply in Idaho

Idaho has experienced an increase in illicit drug seizures. In 2021, approximately 125,000 fentanyl pills were seized from Idaho State Police—that is a 562% increase in fentanyl pill seizures from 2020 (Source: Idaho State Police). 

Among these drug seizures, Idaho has witnessed a significant rise in illicitly manufactured fentanyl found in substances. Fentanyl is increasingly being mixed within a variety of illicit substances—including methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine. This mixing can lead to a higher risk of overdose. People may not be aware of the presence or dosage of fentanyl within their drug, increasing the likelihood for fatal overdose.

Learn more about fentanyl on the DEA Fentanyl Facts website 


Naloxone is free for Idaho first responders
Arming yourself with naloxone is the best way to save a life.
Drug overdose in Idaho
Drug overdose deaths (2021, Preliminary)
Drug overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids (2021, Preliminary)
Increase in suspected opioid overdose emergency department visits (2020-2021)
Fentanyl safety for first responders

Someone cannot overdose by simply touching fentanyl—it must be introduced through the bloodstream or through a mucus membrane, such as eyes, nose, or mouth. First responders that come into contact with illicit substances should take precautions to reduce illicit drug exposure, such as wearing personal protective equipment, using proper sanitary practices, and avoiding  touching the eyes, nose, and mouth.

First responders are encouraged to carry  protective equipment, such as naloxone and CPR face masks, to minimize adverse effects when responding to a suspected overdose situation. Carrying these tools will save a life.

 To learn more about fentanyl safety procedures, download this fentanyl safety infographic


Naloxone information

What is naloxone?

Naloxone, also known by the nasal spray brand names, Narcan and Kloxxado, is a medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and prevent death.

Naloxone will not harm someone who does not have opioids in their system. It is recommended to give a dose of naloxone to anyone experiencing the signs and symptoms of an overdose. Additional doses may be required to restore breathing if stronger opioids like fentanyl are present.

Learn more about naloxone from the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Why should I carry naloxone?

Naloxone is the first line of defense in an opioid overdose—it can quickly restore breathing and save a life. First responders can save lives with naloxone. Everyone who overdoses with opioids, whether it is with a prescribed medicine or an illicit drug, needs naloxone.

Did you know? 61% of police departments and 93% of county sheriff’s offices in Idaho have requested free naloxone from DHW.

Law enforcement agencies—learn how to promote naloxone within your agency with the BJA Naloxone Toolkit

Does naloxone enable drug use?

Naloxone does not enable drug use. Naloxone is a tool that reduces the negative health impacts on someone who is experiencing an overdose.

People use drugs for varying reasons—such as experimentation, for social events, to cope with trauma or loss, or because they have a substance use disorder. Currently, fentanyl is getting mixed into other illicit substances—resulting in a significant increase in overdose deaths.

Drug use will likely continue to occur despite the presence or absence of naloxone. Therefore, having naloxone on-hand will reduce the risk of fatal overdose and death for the person using opioids.

This concept is known as harm reduction. Harm reduction aims to “meet people where they are at” and promote the health and safety of people who use drugs until they are ready to explore paths to recovery.

First responders can save lives amongst those most vulnerable to overdose death—the people who experienced a non-fatal overdose—by distributing doses of naloxone at the scene of a suspected overdose.

Learn more about harm reduction and how it can be used among first responders

How can my agency get naloxone?

First responder agencies in Idaho can request free naloxone through the following form

How can my agency get trained in naloxone administration?

DHW offers two options for Idaho first responders to receieve naloxone administration training: 

Recorded training. DHW created a virtual naloxone administration training for Idaho first responders. Select the link to access the training video

Live training. Through the continued partnership with the seven public health districts, free in-person and online naloxone trainings are available first responder agencies. Select the link to access your local public health district website through the Idaho Opioid Resource Map

Naloxone leave-behind programs

What is a naloxone leave-behind program?

A naloxone leave-behind program is commonly conducted among first responder agencies to increase access to naloxone and behavioral health resources. After stabilizing the patient experiencing a suspected overdose, Idaho EMS agencies are encouraged to leave a naloxone kit with the patient or a loved one.

In 2021, Idaho Statute 54-1733B was revised to expand access to the life-saving medication, naloxone. Under the revised statute,  Idaho first responder agencies acting in good faith are permitted to dispense naloxone to any person. To learn more about the recent policy changes and how it expands naloxone distribution within Idaho, please refer to the following policy brief

Find examples of EMS naloxone leave-behind programs here:

What impact do naloxone leave behind programs have on communities?

Substance use has impacted many Idaho communities. Luckily, we have resources available to support people with opioid use disorder stay safe and healthy until they are ready to begin their recovery journey.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, community and first responder naloxone distribution programs have shown decreases in drug overdose deaths by 11-21%.

Select the link to learn more about how increasing naloxone access can impact your community

Are agencies allowed to further distribute naloxone to the public and their employees?

Yes. Naloxone can be distributed by organizations to people who may need it, including to their employees and the public.

Is there any liability if my organization provides naloxone to individuals?

There is no liability for organizations providing naloxone to an individual at risk of an opioid overdose.

Does my agency need to establish a policy for a naloxone leave-behind program?

DHW encourages Idaho EMS agencies to establish policies and procedures for naloxone leave-behind programs to maintain clarity and accuracy in program implementation.

Examples of naloxone leave-behind program policies and guidance are listed below: 

-Idaho Falls Fire Department Naloxone Leave-Behind Program Policy

-Tacoma Fire Department Naloxone Leave-Behind Program Policy 

-Saratoga County Naloxone Leave-Behind Program Policy

-REMO Naloxone Leave-Behind Program Guidance Document

-SCOPE Statewide Project Naloxone Leave-Behind Program Guidance Document


First responder substance use and mental health resources

Substance use resources

Select the links to access substance use resources and services: 

Find Help Idaho

Substance use resource card

Substance use treatment locator

Resource maps

Select the links to access Idaho resource maps for opioid and substance use disorder services: 

Idaho Opioid Resource Map 

Substance Use Disorder Resource Map 

Related programs

Anyone who takes opioids can be at risk for addiction, accidental overdose, or death. Learn about the risks of opioids and overdose prevention resources.
A harm reduction approach to address substance use disorders.
Idaho EMS guidance, education, and resources.
Substance Use Disorders (SUD) involved recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causing clinically significant health problems.