Safety of a Modified Community Trailer to Manage Patients with Presumed Fentanyl Overdose

J Urban Health. 2019 Feb;96(1):21-26. doi: 10.1007/s11524-018-0321-z.


Opioid overdoses (OD) cause substantial morbidity and mortality globally, and current emergency management is typically limited to supportive care, with variable emphasis on harm reduction and addictions treatment. Our urban setting has a high concentration of patients with presumed fentanyl OD, which places a burden on both pre-hospital and emergency department (ED) resources. From December 13, 2016, to March 1, 2017, we placed a modified trailer away from an ED but near the center of the expected area of high OD and accepted low-risk patients with presumed fentanyl OD. We provided OD treatment as well as on-site harm reduction, addictions care, and community resources. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients requiring transfer to an ED for clinical deterioration, while secondary outcomes were the proportion of patients initiated on opioid agonists and provided take-home naloxone kits. We treated 269 patients with opioid OD, transferred three (1.1%) to a local ED, started 43 (16.0%) on opioid agonists, and provided 220 (81.7%) with THN. Our program appears to be safe and may serve as a model for other settings dealing with a large numbers of opioid OD.

Keywords: Addictions medicine; Fentanyl; Opioid overdose; Public health.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / poisoning*
  • Drug Overdose / drug therapy*
  • Drug Overdose / mortality
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Fentanyl / poisoning*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Naloxone / therapeutic use*
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / drug therapy*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Naloxone
  • Fentanyl