EMS Tips – Trump’s Opioid Promise – Taxis for 911 Callers

1. President Trump’s impact on EMS and the opioid crisis

On the campaign trail candidate Trump promised voters he would “end the opioid epidemic in America.”

For a President who repeatedly reminds Americans that he is a genius, best dealmaker, top negotiator, and pro-life who knows the best people his actions to keep his promise have been disappointing and deadly.

Trump in Phoenix, Ariz. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

“Trump’s underwhelming declaration of the opioid overdose epidemic as a National Public Health Emergency instead of a National Emergency is set to expire on Jan. 23, just three days into his second year in office.”

With his fondness for EMTs, paramedics, firefighters and police, the “public safety president” can use the bully pulpit to do much, much more for EMS, other public safety personnel, and the communities they protect.

Tom Petty died of an accidental overdose. The opioid epidemic shows no mercy regardless of class, income, talent or access to the best doctors. Petty was “prescribed various pain medications for a multitude of issues including Fentanyl patches.”

The medical examiner also found traces of “oxycodone, temazepam, alprazolam, citalopram, acetylfentanyl and despropionyl fentanyl.”

2. Phoenix 911 callers can get a taxi 

Not every 911 caller is having a life-threatening medical emergency. Phoenix Fire Department is smartly allocating resources by using taxis to transport patients who simply need a ride to the hospital instead of an ambulance with paramedics.

A long and well-researched article in the Arizona Republic describes the history of the program, how paramedics select a taxi and the dispatch process. Every medical transport intervention (remember transport is a treatment) has an inevitable rate of under- or over-triage. I am neither surprised nor disappointed by what the investigative journalist found.

Phoenix FD responded to 164,106 calls in FY 2015. Taxi’s dispatched:

  • 2016: 7,611
  • 2015: 6,741
  • 2014: 5,824
  • 2013: 3,959
  • 2012: 2,891

3. EMT as fictional book character

I am about a third of the way into “Tips for Living“, a recent Kindle First novel, by Renee Shafransky. One of the emerging characters is a volunteer EMT in a small town.

By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.