Over the last few months, The Seattle Public Library has examined the legal and safety issues around allowing staff to administer naloxone (Narcan) to Library visitors who appear to be opioid overdose victims.
After a careful review process, which included updated guidance on liability from the City Attorney’s Office and an examination of other City departments’ practices, the Library has decided to allow trained staff volunteers to administer Library-supplied naloxone to patrons in need.
The medicine is not yet available. The Library has ordered naloxone doses, which will be placed in first aid kits for staff use only. The Library is also securing training sessions for staff who are interested in volunteering. We expect these steps to be completed in the next few months.
Because staff will only administer naloxone on a volunteer basis, the availability of the medicine at Library locations will be dependent on volunteer availability. In other words, there is no guarantee that a patron who overdoses on Library grounds will receive naloxone.
The Library will continue to rely on the expertise of the Seattle Fire Department as our primary means of addressing patron medical issues. The first step for a Library staff member will still be to call 911. Providing naloxone through staff volunteers will potentially offer an added layer of emergency assistance once that call has been placed.
Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, is the prescription medication used to rapidly counteract opioid drug overdoses. It can be used in the absence of trained medical personnel to address an overdose situation. Additional legal analysis determined that Library employees are protected by existing state law concerning its use.
The review was prompted in part by Library staff who expressed interest in having access to this tool to help patrons in emergency situations.
– Elisa M., Communications