Best Practices for a Novel EMS-Based Naloxone Leave behind Program

Becca M. Scharf, David J. Sabat, James M. Brothers, Asa M. Margolis, Matthew J. Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Increasing naloxone access has been identified as a primary strategy to reduce opioid overdose deaths. To supplement community naloxone training and distribution access points, EMS systems have instituted public safety-based naloxone leave behind (NLB) programs that allow emergency medical responders to distribute “leave behind” naloxone kits on the scene of an overdose. This model presents an opportunity to expand naloxone access for individuals at high risk for future overdoses. Objectives: To evaluate the preliminary outcomes of a novel EMS-based NLB program in Howard County, Maryland. Methods: This exploratory study involved analysis of data from the Howard County NLB Program. Basic statistical analysis of program performance metrics and participant demographic characteristics were performed. Results: From June 2018 to June 2019, Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services responded to 239 overdose calls and distributed 120 naloxone kits to individuals on the scene of an overdose, a 50.21% distribution rate. The HCNLB program connected 143 patients (59.83%) to peer recovery specialists. Among the 143 patients linked to peer recovery support specialist services, 87 (60.84%) had accepted an NLB kit from EMS. The fully adjusted logistic regression model revealed that those whose kit was left with a family member on the scene were 5.16 times more likely to be connected to peer support specialists (OR = 5.16, CI= 2.35–11.29, p= 0.000) while those whose kit was left with a friend or given directly to the patient were 3.69 times (OR = 3.69, CI= 1.13–12.06, p < 0.05) and 2.37 times (OR = 2.37, CI= 1.10–5.14, p < 0.05) more likely, respectively, to be connected to follow up services as compared to those who did not accept a kit, controlling for other variables in the model. Conclusion: This study highlights the importance of engaging an individual’s family and social network when offering connections to treatment and recovery resources. NLB initiatives can potentially augment existing community-based naloxone training structures, thus widening the scope of the life-saving drug and reaching those most at risk of dying from an opioid overdose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)418-426
Number of pages9
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


  • emergency medical services
  • naloxone
  • opioids
  • overdose
  • overdose prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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