On the Frontlines of the Opioid Crisis

October 14 • 2020

While the world remains consumed by the COVID-19 pandemic, another public health crisis continues to rage. The opioid epidemic has ravaged both of our great nations; it’s estimated that in the U.S. alone, nearly 130 people die every day from opioid overdose.

The opioid epidemic also affects IAFF members from every angle. Fire service personnel battle this crisis daily on the frontlines of their communities, but fire fighters also suffer – often in silence – from their own struggles with pain management, prescription drug use and addiction.

To address the ongoing opioid problem, and with support from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the Department of Energy (DOE), the IAFF has launched a new online resource, Responding to the Opioid Epidemic, a 10-segment video and podcast series. The series provides an in-depth understanding of opioid addiction and treatment, addiction treatment considerations for fire fighters and responsible approaches to pain management for fire fighters living with pain. The IAFF is able to provide this critical training with support from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The series features stories and experiences from IAFF members living in recovery from opioid addiction, provides best practices for addressing substance use among fire service personnel through comprehensive behavioral health programming and offers tools for EMS personnel on the frontlines responding to the opioid crisis, including how to increase situational awareness and manage exposure risks and how to cope with compassion fatigue and burnout.

Each segment includes a video and corresponding podcast to provide more in-depth discussion and commentary. Visit www.iaff.org/opioid-epidemic.