First responders treating pain with non-addictive drugs, avoiding opioids


Susquehanna Valley EMS is making the switch from opioid medications to a non-addictive drug to treat pain in most cases.

The PA Department of Health sent a bulletin to EMS companies asking them to add Toradol to their ambulances by July 1st as a part of their ALS protocol update. Susquehanna Valley EMS is one of the first to do so and says this will also help their fight against the opioid epidemic.

Paramedic Adam Marden told CBS 21, "We can help make a difference with the addiction going on in the country by switching to toradol."

In 2017 there were 165 opioid related deaths in Lancaster County. That's up 40% from the year before.

Paramedics were often using opioids to treat people with pain but people started abusing the system.

"We get a lot of calls for patients looking for pain medication," said Marden.

In May they got the bulletin from the PA DOH allowing and requring them to add toradol to their ambulances. It's a non-addictive pain medicine. SVEMS is going to use Toradol in place of opioids in most cases. Cases where they wouldn't are severe trauma like breaking your femur.

"We would try to give it instead of the morphine or fentanyl. It has the same energies and effects as morphine so we'd prefer to use the toradol first," said Marden.

CBS 21 talked to an addiction specialist and professor for Penn State Health, Dr. Sarah Kawasaki, who said it's impossible to get addicted to a drug like Toradol, also known as Ketorolac.

"If you found me someone who was selling their body for ketoralac, I would like to meet them." said Kawasaki.

She studies the opioid epidemic and says this move could indeed help the crisis.

"Medications like ketorolac are a really good tool and there are other medications that are non addictive that can be used in the field for pain management," said Kawasaki.

Kawasaki says Toradol treats the actual pain whereas opioids treat a persons feelings about the pain and believes this makes Toradol more effective when it comes to treating pain in most cases.

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