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New Effort by Somers Fire Department Paramedics, Trinity Health New England & Community Health Resources (CHR) is First-of-its-Kind in New England

To help prevent overdose deaths and connect people to life-saving services, the Somers Fire Department Paramedics and behavioral healthcare provider Community Health Resources (CHR) recently launched an innovative pilot program to provide the addiction treatment medication Suboxone at the scene of an overdose, following resuscitation by Narcan.

Known as the Somers Fire Department Prehospital Suboxone program, this approach was designed to reduce opioid deaths, reduce repeated overdoses, and decrease hospital readmissions while providing referrals for continued long-term care through CHR. It’s the first pilot of its kind in New England.

“Too often, we’ve seen people experience an overdose, receive Narcan, recover, and then overdose again the next day. If no one is around to call 911, that second overdose can be fatal,” said Somers Paramedic Cody Lemire, who coordinated the Prehospital Suboxone pilot with Brittany Liebla, DNP, APRN, and CHR’s Addiction Medicine Specialist for the Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) Program.

“Under the new pilot, if an individual meets the criteria to receive Suboxone after being revived by Narcan, they will have protection against an overdose for approximately 30 hours, allowing sufficient time to connect the individual with treatment at CHR,” he explained, noting that Suboxone takes effect rapidly and diminishes withdrawal symptoms.

“After receiving Narcan and Suboxone on-site, individuals will be encouraged to go with the paramedics to the Emergency Department for medical care and potential bridge prescriptions, and then have same-day or next-day follow-up care at CHR,” Liebla explained.

The Prehospital Suboxone pilot was approved by the statewide EMS Council, Trinity Health New England at Johnson Memorial Hospital which provides medical oversight for EMS services in Somers, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and other oversight organizations.

“Providing rapid access to this life-saving medication is an opportunity to more effectively treat opioid use disorder and protect individuals during a very vulnerable time before they formally begin treatment,” Liebla said.

“Suboxone is a medication that, when taken as prescribed, is protective against overdose, reduces withdrawal symptoms, prevents opioid cravings, and prevents patients from using dangerous opioids like fentanyl which has overtaken the illicit drug market,” she added.

A 2022 study conducted by the Cooper School of Medicine at Rowan University in New Jersey shows that “administering Suboxone to overdose patients within 10 minutes after resuscitation with Narcan quickly alleviates withdrawal symptoms and results in a nearly six-fold increase in patients showing up for treatment within 30 days.”

For this project, saving lives and helping people to safely start treatment is the top priority.

“Oftentimes, the biggest obstacle for patients is overcoming withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, Suboxone can provide immediate relief until individuals are engaged in care,” Liebla added.

“Once individuals are in treatment at CHR, the outcomes are typically very positive. We have a strong team of medical and behavioral health providers as well as peer Recovery Support Specialists who are all here to help people reach and maintain recovery,” she added. “We welcome this opportunity to connect with people in need in a more immediate and efficient manner.”

About CHR: CHR is Connecticut’s most comprehensive, nonprofit behavioral healthcare agency, offering a broad range of services for people of all ages whose lives have been touched by mental illness, addiction, trauma, homelessness and more. Accredited by The Joint Commission, CHR was the first nonprofit in CT to meet all of the rigorous federal criteria as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic and has repeatedly been named among the Top Workplaces in the state. Learn more at

July 5, 2023
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