Should You Include Narcan in Your Trauma Kit?

A wholistic approach to preparedness is important. I believe being able to address common life-threatening injuries is as important as carrying a firearm or knowing what to do in case of a fire. So I recommend you have access to a trauma kit with the gear to treat common injuries, as well as the understanding of how to use the gear on a patient.

Mountain Man Medical trauma kits are affordable, customizable and come with access to a free, online training course, which is invaluable.

a dose of narcan nasal spray

What to Include in Your Trauma Kit—

What gear you include in your trauma kit will vary based on a few factors, such as where you're going to carry or stage the kit, and for what purpose you intend to use it.

For example, you probably won't have the same gear in a kit you carry on your person every day as the kit you have staged in your vehicle or garage. The kit you carry might only have the essentials like a tourniquet, chest seals, hemostatic gauze and or a pressure dressing, while the one staged may include multiples of these items and possibly things like space blankets, splints, cravats, over-the-counter pain meds and ointments, etc.

If you plan to use the kit on the range, you need to include gear necessary to treat gunshot wounds. If forced to choose between a tourniquet and a splint in your GSW kit, you might forgo the splint. But including a splint and space blanket in your trauma kit for camping makes a lot of sense in this application.

role playing trauma training on a dummy

The Increasing Rate of Opioid Overdose Deaths—

Amazingly, leaders and mainstream media downplay the serious societal problems caused by and shockingly high number of deaths from synthetic opioid overdoses. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) synthetic opioids were involved in 6 percent of 41,502 overdose deaths in 2012. In 2015, of the 52,404 overdose deaths, 18 percent were from opioids. In 2019, opioids accounted for 51 percent of 70,630 overdose deaths, and then 66 percent of 106,699 deaths in 2021.

Opioid Overdose Deaths %

YearOverdose Deaths% Attributed to Synthetic Opioids
201241,5026%
201552,40418%
201970,63051%
2021106,69966%

So not only are overdose deaths increasing, synthetic opioids account for a huge percentage. Naloxone, better known as Narcan, has been around for years and is a drug commonly used to reverse the effects of opioids in overdose patients. Until now, Food and Drug Association (FDA) regulations required someone to have a prescription for the drug. This year the FDA changed that requirement, allowing anyone to purchase it.

Even with the FDA's approval, Narcan is not yet available for over-the-counter purchase. You can sign up on the manufacturer's website to get a notification when it's available for purchase without a prescription. In preparation, does it make sense for you to include Narcan in your trauma kit?

Should You Carry Narcan?

I'm not a medical professional, and my opinion on the matter is based on my research and my experiences with Narcan while responding to my fair share of overdoses during my time as patrol cop in a busy southern California city. These are just my conclusions that you can use as you like as you make your own determination on the drug.

People You Know—

If I had a loved one who used drugs, especially opioids, or worked with addicts, I would include Narcan in my everyday carry kit. Not only would it be in an everyday carry kit, but I would have Narcan in my vehicle, and at home. If I were building a medical kit for an organization like a church or school, for example, I would include Narcan.

packages of fentanyl

Photo-Wikipedia

People You Don't Know—

It is wise to evaluate the situation before jumping in and using deadly force to defend a third party. We should be similarly mindful when deciding to whom, and under what circumstances, we administer Narcan.I don't say this because Narcan is a dangerous drug. It is actually easy to administer and is generally safe, with few side effects or interactions.

I advise some forethought because the person to whom you administer Narcan may wake up confused and aggressive. You'll have to consider things like, how far away is the medical response, and are there other people with the overdosing person? They may try to stop you from calling police or paramedics and become hostile themselves.

There is also the risk of accidental exposure to fentanyl or getting poked by an infected syringe.

You may decide the risk is worth it, but the possibility that the person or associates may be violent, and being cautious of needles, is something you should prepare for.

dirty syringe

The Actual Risks of Accidental Exposure—

Fentanyl is probably the most well-known synthetic opioid, and while it has legitimate uses, street use is extremely lethal. There are many stories of first-responders being unintentionally exposed to fentanyl. Unfortunately, there is some misunderstanding on the lethality of an accidental fentanyl exposure, and the purposeful ingestion of fentanyl.

One would have to coat their body with fentanyl powder on the street to risk overdose. Even if someone were to breathe some fentanyl powder, they are not at a high risk of overdose.

Not that we shouldn't be cautious when handling fentanyl. And if you're exposed, you should definitely contact paramedics. However, it's important to note that overdoses come from injecting, snorting, or smoking the powder, not from accidental exposures.

This video from PrepMedic does a good job of explaining why many of the ‘nearly fatal' first-responder exposures to fentanyl are not overdoses, but more likely a psychosomatic reaction.

Are You Going to Carry Narcan?

If you have the space, Narcan could be something that is better to have and never need, than need it and not have it. That being said, Narcan expires, so you need to stay on top of that. Your city may have a free Narcan program, like this one in Colorado, or this one in Columbus, OH. If not, it will run you close to $200 for a 2-dose pack if the price stays the same.

Intervening in a medical situation is an individual choice you have to make based on as much information as you can get. Protecting life is sometimes dangerous. We shouldn't ignore the risks, nor should we overstate them.

logo for free emergency response training course

About Matthew Maruster

I follow my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who is the eternal co-equal Son of God. I currently live in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and daughter. I served in the Marine Corps Infantry. I was a Staff Sergeant and served as a Platoon Sergeant during combat in Iraq. After I was a police officer at a municipal agency in San Diego County. I have a Bachelors's Degree in Criminal Justice from National University. MJ Maruster Defense.

11 Comments

  1. John Turrentine on June 7, 2023 at 2:19 pm

    As for me, NO, I will not carry Narcan. I do not imbibe in recreational and illegal drugs. It is not my job nor is it my responsibility to save the life of an illegal drug user.

    • Mike on June 7, 2023 at 2:52 pm

      John, I am under the same guidance in my life. People make those choices and it’s not my responsibility to look after anyone who does.

  2. J. R. Justice on June 7, 2023 at 3:00 pm

    I will NOT waste my bug out bag space on NARCAN, as far as I am concerned, ANYBODY that OVERDOSES should DIE !!!!!That’s the problem with our country today, too many bleeding hearts are more concerned with dope addicts and not people that actually have a medical problem !!!! I will carry an epipen and an albuteral rescue inhaler for people that actually NEED to be helped. If I should come across a dope head that has overdosed, I will step over his body and go about my way, NOBODY with self inflected wounds deserves to be saved !!!!!

    • Tony Muhlenkamp on June 11, 2023 at 3:40 pm

      That’s easy to say until it is your teenage daughter or granddaughter

    • Pete, EMT on June 15, 2023 at 6:14 pm

      FYI, if you stop and provide medical treatment to someone, then stop and walk away without turning them over to a higher level of care, it could easily be construed as “abandonment of a patient, ” a serious offense and you might be liable. It doesn’t matter that you did so because you learned that they were a drug user or anything else.

    • Mike on August 14, 2023 at 1:50 pm

      You will be judged for knowingly looking the other way and letting someone you could have saved die a preventable death. If you are a christian I would re-consider your personal values; Jesus did not turn away form the poor and suffering. “bleeding hearts”.

  3. scottm1 on June 7, 2023 at 8:12 pm

    Very interesting article Matthew – thanks

  4. Bonnie Rogers on June 8, 2023 at 6:28 am

    I totally believe that every “bugout” bag must include Narcan. Sincerely,
    Bonnie Sundquist Rogers, RN,BSN

  5. arielblackman on June 9, 2023 at 11:46 am

    Good truth in the embedded video to correct some of the medical misinformation out there.

  6. Pete, EMT on June 15, 2023 at 6:14 pm

    FYI, if you stop and provide medical treatment to someone, then stop and walk away without turning them over to a higher level of care, it could easily be construed as “abandonment of a patient, ” a serious offense and you might be liable. It doesn’t matter that you did so because you learned that they were a drug user or anything else.

    • Mike on August 14, 2023 at 1:52 pm

      Almost certain this falls under good Samaritan laws. They are not your patient, you are not a medical professional; you did what you could to stop them from dying, who would prosecute that. However, if you administer narcan you should also call EMT’s because narcan itself is only a starting point for treatment.

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