West Valley Fire Dept. now carrying non-opioid based pain medications on ambulances

Jan 18, 2022, 6:00 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 6:26 pm

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — The 911 calls come every day. It’s stressful career knowing seconds count.

Now, though, paramedics with the West Valley City Fire Department have one less thing to worry about when giving patients drugs to help with pain.

“There are big issues throughout the entire country with opioid-based medications becoming very addictive,” Scott Hall said.

Hall is a battalion chief with the West Valley City Fire Department and is proud to say his department is now the first in the state to offer patients medication for pain that are non-opioid based.

“We have an option to give them either IV acetaminophen or Toradol, which will treat their pain, bring their pain level down, and ease their worries about having an opioid addiction,” Hall said. “We don’t want to put our patients at risk later on in their recovery process with possibly becoming addicted to those medications.”

West Valley ambulances began carrying these drugs a couple of weeks ago. Paramedics will still have opioids, such as morphine and fentanyl, and will discuss giving them to patients on 911 calls, if possible.

As of Tuesday morning, West Valley paramedics have given these non-opioid drugs to patients in 25 cases. It’s in response to the opioid epidemic, where some addictions began with simple pain management.

“This is a big deal. There are studies that demonstrate some people are just very, very sensitive to opioids and can become easily addicted, even with just a dose or two,” Dr. Peter Taillac, medical director for the WVCFD, said.

Dr. Taillac is also with the University of Utah, and says IV acetaminophen and Toradol are very effective in pain management without many of the side-effects opioids have.

“It doesn’t cause as much nausea, if at all. It doesn’t cause problems with over-sedation or suppressing respirations,” he said.

Instead, these drugs are helping the patient with pain now. And possibly later.

“We feel like this is really taking a step forward in a very positive direction,” Taillac said.

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West Valley Fire Dept. now carrying non-opioid based pain medications on ambulances