First Responders

If you’re a first responder, such as a paramedic, law enforcement officer, or firefighter, there’s a lot you can do to help end Rhode Island’s drug overdose crisis.


What can you do


Report Overdoses

As a first responder, you understand how serious the overdose problem is — but many people don’t. When you report an overdose, you’re doing your part to get important information to the organizations working to end Rhode Island’s drug overdose epidemic.

Talk to your agency about how to report overdoses you encounter in the line of duty.  Get to know your agency’s naloxone coordinator and learn how to report the use of naloxone kits.

Know Naloxone

It’s very important that you know how to use naloxone correctly — and that you can help others learn, too. Remember, your knowledge can save lives.

Be sure to participate in naloxone trainings and information sessions offered by your agency.

Know Fentanyl

We continue to see a lot of Fentanyl-related  overdoses in Rhode Island. Fentanyl is an opioid that is 100 times more powerful than morphine, however, the risk of overdose or respiratory depression from skin and airborne exposure is a near scientific impossibility. Read more about Fentanyl Safety for First Responders.

Know Rhode Island’s Good Samaritan Law

The Good Samaritan Law provides protections from charges and prosecution for individuals who are experiencing and assisting with an overdose. Familiarize yourself with the law and uphold it when responding to overdoses.

Learn about BH Link (Crisis Intervention Program)

BH Link is a program intended to serve people over 18 who are experiencing behavioral health crises, like mental health and/or substance use. This program includes the BH Link Triage Center: a 24/7 community-based walk-in/drop-off facility where clinicians connect people to immediate, stabilizing emergency behavioral health services, and long-term care and recovery supports. Click here to download a sheet to learn more.

Refer to your agency’s policies about how and when to  utilize BH Link’s services.

Set an Example for Your Community

Part of ending the drug overdose epidemic is changing how Rhode Islanders think about addiction and drug use. As a first responder, your attitude and knowledge about overdose can be just as influential as your service. Using compassionate language and showing kindness on-scene sets a powerful example to the community you serve. For example, consider using phrases such as “a person who uses drugs” instead of “addicts” or “junkies.”

Help stop the bias and discrimination behind opioid addiction — become a compassionate source of information for your community.

Find out more about the importance of using person-first language.


More Information

Responding to Overdose with Naloxone

Check out this video from The Providence Journal: where Lt. Joe Vinacco, Branch Avenue Providence Fire Department talks about responding to overdose with naloxone.


More Resources


Starting a Naloxone Program

Learn how to start a naloxone program in your community with the Law Enforcement Naloxone Toolkit.

Informational Videos about Naloxone

Watch and share these naloxone training videos from Prescribe to Prevent.

The HOPE Initiative:

Heroin Opioid Prevention Efforts (HOPE) is a program that partners behavioral health professionals with members of law enforcement to provide outreach to Rhode Islanders who are risk of overdose. More information.

First Responder’s Project

The Rhode Island Department of Health’s Center for EMS partners with several police departments throughout the state to provide them with ongoing free Naloxone to use when responding to calls for overdoses. Please contact the Center’s Deputy Chief, Carolina Roberts-Santana, or call at 401-487-7570 for more information.

You can also learn more about how to start a naloxone program in your community with the Law Enforcement Naloxone Toolkit.

Safe Stations | Fire Stations in East Providence, Newport, Providence, and Woonsocket: