Vancouver Fire Department adds new tool to combat opioid crisis

June 14, 2024

EMS Division Chief Robb Milano holds a Narcan kit.

To better assist with the public health crisis of opioid use, the Vancouver Fire Department has launched a new leave-behind Narcan program. Effective May 1, Narcan overdose prevention kits are provided to any individual who receives overdose treatment from Vancouver first responders.  

“The number of emergency medical calls we respond to is skyrocketing with the current opioid crisis,” said EMS Division Chief Robb Milano. “VFD crews administered Narcan 342 times in 2022 and almost doubled to 583 in 2023. Providing this easy-to-use and reliable kit to those at risk of repeat overdose will undoubtedly help us save more lives.”

Since implementing the program, Vancouver Fire has left behind Narcan kits 25 times. This program was made possible thanks to the Washington State Department of Health, which covers the cost and provides one-for-one replacement of Narcan kits to the department on an ongoing basis. The program helps provide community members with a safe, easy-to-use option to prevent an overdose before responders arrive.

The use of deadly drugs, including fentanyl, continues to grow in Vancouver. Overdose deaths in the unsheltered population were a key factor behind the City’s homelessness state of emergency declared in Nov. 2023. From January through April, Vancouver Fire responded to 696 medical/EMS calls related to homelessness. While not all deaths can be attributed to overdose, 18 community members experiencing unsheltered homelessness have died since Dec. 2023 – representing a 50% increase from last year.

The City remains committed to providing rapid response and high-quality care to the community and continues to work closely with state and county public health partners to address the opioid crisis. Narcan is a safe, legal and life-saving medicine that anyone can use. The public can learn where to access free Narcan and how to use it on Clark County Public Health’s website.


Media contacts:

Tim Becker, Strategic Communications Manager, City of Vancouver, tim.becker@cityofvancouver.us

Robb Milano, Emergency Medical Services Division Chief, Vancouver Fire Department, robert.milano@cityofvancouver.us, 360-487-7211