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Bill would require first responders to be trained for an overdose

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Michigan lawmakers have banned a drug sold in smoke shops and online called "bath salts." The substance, likely imported from China, is now in the same category as heroin and methamphetamine.

A State House bill could require all paramedics and first responders in the state to be trained to handle a drug overdose. 

Rep. Hank Vaupel, R-Handy Township, is lead sponsor on the bill. He said the bill should ensure health professionals on a scene are up to date on overdose treatments – similar to how they are already required to re-certify their skills in CPR. 

Vaupel said his bill is in no way a slight to first responders, who he said are already doing an excellent job. But the bill could help save even more lives.

"People who might be first on the scene would be able to recognize the difference between an opioid overdose and a cardiac malfunction," he said.

Many paramedics are already trained to treat drug overdoses, learning to use counteractive drugs like naloxone. 

"The idea was to have that, in essence, as part of their standard training," said Rep. Andy Schor, D-Lansing, another sponsor on the bill. "Those who are already getting it will really see no effect, they'll continue to get that training, and those who haven't received that training will now get it in the future."

Between 1999 and 2013, Michigan saw a 385% spike in drug-deaths, while drug deaths nationally also climbed. Vaupel said this is just one bill working to combat the crisis. 

"All we're trying to do," Vaupel said, "is just try to ensure that what lives can be saved are."
 

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