Key Informant Groups

Emergency Medical Service Personnel

EMTs and paramedics are at the intersection of COVID-19 and opioid overdoses. One study reported that EMS personnel responded to six times as many suspected opioid overdoses than evaluated by their city’s medical examiner. This puts EMTs at the forefront of an area’s COVID-19 response and gives the medical personnel the unique ability to provide high-quality accurate data that will evolve with our nation’s response to this epidemic.

The NDEWS team specifically curtailed this study to try to answer two questions: What is the impact of COVID-19 on overdose reversals, and what is the virus’s impact on emergency health services for persons with substance use disorders?

Syringe Exchange Programs

Due to COVID-19, some syringe exchanges have been closed, while others have been classified as essential workers and continue to operate. Our study will interview these essential workers to gain their perspective on COVID-19’s effects on drug use, overdoses, and services utilization.

Funeral Directors

Funeral directors have been called the “last responders,” filling the unique societal niche of both a comforter to mourning families and also witnesses to the impacts of adverse drug events. These drug events are not limited to the deceased: there have been noted incidents of drug use concurring in the funeral home by the mourning family and friends. With this context, the NDEWS team will be interviewing funeral directors for their unique perspective on drug-related mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (U01DA051126) to the University of Florida (PI: Cottler; Co-Is: Goldberger, Nixon, Striley), New York University (Co-I: Palamar), and Florida Atlantic University (Co-I: Barenholtz).