First Responders

First Responders

First Responders play a vital role in curbing the opioid epidemic. Often, they are the first on the scene of an overdose and help to provide lifesaving medications (naloxone) to reverse the overdose. In addition, many are also called to respond to a variety of other health or social needs for people who use drugs. The NC DHHS recognizes and values the role that First Responders play in reducing the harms and deaths caused by drug use. 

Communities across the state are coming together to create an effective response to the significant increase in overdose deaths in recent years. Post-overdose response teams (PORTs; also called Quick Response Teams, Rapid Response, Community Response Teams, etc.) are an emerging strategy to meaningfully engage with people who have experienced overdose. These teams follow up with patients who have experienced an overdose within 72 hours. Teams seek to link the patient with appropriate care ranging from harm reduction services to treatment to recovery supports.

In 2019, the NC Office of Emergency Medical Services in partnership with the NC Division of Public Health hosted several regional trainings for post-overdose response team (PORT) development across the state. These PORT Trainings equipped participants to start or continue development of programs in partnership with first responders and harm reductionists. In addition to EMS-based partnerships, teams learned to meaningfully engage with people with lived experience, people in recovery, and other harm reduction specialists when developing and operating PORTs. We are currently unable to host more of these trainings at this time, but are looking for ways to provide these trainings again in the future.

In August 2020, we released a step-by-step toolkit for communities to use to implement a PORT program. All first responders and public safety professionals are highly encouraged to review this toolkit (linked below).

Post-Overdose Response Team (PORT) Toolkit

Post-Overdose Response Teams (PORT) Overview

Post-Overdose Response Teams (PORT) Coverage Map

To stay updated on potential upcoming trainings, please email to join our listserv.

Additional Resources

Fentanyl Information for First Responders
Map of NC Counties with Law Enforcement Carrying Naloxone
Map of NC Counties with EMS Naloxone Take Home Programs IDUs
Most recent data available on the NCDHHS DPH IVPB Poisoning Data webpage.