I disagree with my restaurant’s new policies to fight drug use, should we make job offers by email, and more

It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…

1. I disagree with my restaurant’s new policies to fight drug use on our premises

I work in a restaurant. The restaurant has a new owner and a new manager. The opioid epidemic is strong in my state. The new management has decided to put blue lights in our washrooms. These lights make it impossible to see veins and it means anyone trying to use drugs with a needle can’t see where their veins are. Only staff and customers are allowed to use the washrooms now, no exceptions. This is a new rule; we always allowed anyone who needed to before.

We have all been banned from carrying narcan (which can treat narcotic overdose) and anyone found with it will be terminated. We all used to carry it because we have had lots of people overdose around here or even on the property. We used to call an ambulance and a street outreach program that had experience with addiction. Now we are only allowed to call the cops and by the new rules we must do it. We can’t give narcan. The laws here do not do enough for people with addiction and calling the police leads to arresting and jail instead of rehab and assistance. We are no long allowed to serve anyone who appears to be high and have to call the police on them if they don’t leave. Anyone who overdoses, uses drugs, or is high here gets a ban and can’t come back and the police are always called. The street outreach people have already been banned from the property.

I don’t agree with these new policies or the feelings of the new management about addiction. I think it is a disease and those people need help and support. They think people can stop whenever they want and are drains on society. I can’t quit because I go to school during the day and this is the only place around here where I can make good money (from tips), is flexible enough for my school schedule, and is open late enough for me to get lots of hours. In addition, besides this one issue, the management is not bad and works with the staff on what they need. I have two more years of school left.

How do I deal with it when I don’t agree with my boss? Some of the other staff agree with me and the other half agrees with the boss. They say the new policies are final and anyone who breaks them will get terminated. I need my job here but I don’t agree with these policies.

It sounds like your restaurant worries it has become too attractive to people using drugs on its property, which in turn could make it less attractive to other patrons and raise liability and insurance concerns. It’s not unreasonable for them to want to guard against that. Banning narcan and the street outreach people sounds like punitive overkill, but the rest of this — refusing to serve someone who’s obviously high, calling the police if they refuse to leave, making it harder to shoot up in your bathrooms, and banning people who use drugs or overdose there — doesn’t sound outrageous. It sounds like they’re trying to create an atmosphere that won’t drive away other customers, which is understandable (minus the narcan ban), and I say that as someone who strongly shares your preference for a treatment model over a criminal model.

If you and your coworkers feel strongly about this, you can try pushing back as a group — there is strength and protection in numbers — but ultimately if this is your employer’s decision. If they don’t budge, then at that point it’s like anything else your employer might do that you object to: you have to decide if you’re willing to continue working there knowing that this is part of the package.

2. Should we make job offers by phone or email?

I lead a research team at an academic institute and just sent an email to a candidate making a job offer. He had been through a phone screen and a day of on-site interviews, and then I had followed up with him (by email) to get his references and tell him we would be in touch within a week. At the on-site, we had discussed salary expectations (his) and salary range (ours), should we make an offer, so we knew we had a good fit on that regard. (Our range was slightly above his expectations, which I told him at the time.) I was reasonably confident he would take the job, if offered.

After I sent the email (my typical practice), I was curious, and I googled “email job offers,” which led me to a post of yours from 2009 declaring the practice a “bad idea.”

I was wondering if you still held this same opinion! To me, these days, non-pre-arranged phone calls seem rarer and rarer. I can’t remember the last time I called someone in a professional context without setting up a time to talk first, via email (or Slack). And emailing someone to set up a call to make an offer– well, that just seems like torture to make someone wait to hear what you have to say.

Obviously a form letter from HR out of the blue seems like a bad call. But what do you think of a personal email from the hiring manager, expressing excitement and laying out the basic terms (salary, reporting structure) and offering to chat by phone to follow up if the candidate has questions or wants to talk more?

(FWIW, this particular candidate accepted within the hour, via email.)

Phone calls are still standard for job offers, for the reasons I talked about in the post you mentioned — you want to be able to pitch the job and express your enthusiasm for bringing the person on board, as well as get an initial sense of their response. Plus, if you email it, you have no idea if the email was even received (or if it got lost, or if the person is away and not checking email for several days or so forth).

To be clear, you’d still follow up the phone call with a written offer so that the candidate has all the details in writing.

You’re right that unscheduled phone calls are increasingly rare for a lot of people — but they haven’t disappeared entirely, particularly in business contexts, and this is one situation where they’re still in common use.

3. Can I refuse insincere “appreciation” from my boss?

I was “voluntold” to work on a project two years ago. I have an excellent work ethic and my boss likes to take advantage of that. I have been working well above my pay grade for two years, have repeatedly requested my job fact sheet be reviewed, and asked for responsibility pay (to no avail). I never get any support or acknowledgement at all. The end of the project is in sight, and last week when we were exiting a project meeting the boss said “I know I owe Jane a cheesecake for all she’s done, do you like cheesecake?” I replied “no..” Jane started on the project about two months ago. My team lead has been involved for a year, but just sits silently in meetings and never does any of the tasks assigned (which end up falling to me). I have repeatedly expressed my frustration at the lack of communication and support. The boss nods in agreement but does nothing to help change things. In the meeting last week, I was tasked with creating all of the training materials and training the trainers this week (something I declined to do weeks ago, but my “no” was ignored).

I know when the project ends, the boss is going to bring in cheesecake for Jane and maybe something else as a “thank you to everyone” (even though only three of us were on the project and only 2 of us did any work). I won’t partake in any food on offer, but worry that the boss might try to give me something directly (as he was asking what my favorite chocolate bar was). Is saying “no thank you” to an insincere token of appreciation appropriate? Is there any way I can discourage the boss from doing something insulting (like giving me a chocolate bar)? The minions have told the team lead and boss many times that we don’t like food as a reward but they never listen.

Nope! I definitely understand the urge, but you can’t professionally refuse a thank-you from your boss if it’s clear that you’re doing it to Make A Point. In other words, you can of course say, “Oh, thank you but I actually don’t eat chocolate” (or any other kind of polite decline) but you can’t say, “I don’t want your thank-you for this because it’s insincere/I’ve been treated poorly/this is insulting when what I deserve is a raise” or anything in that neighborhood. That’s going to come across as hostile. (You might be ready for it to come across as hostile! But it’s likely to do you more harm than good, even if it would feel pretty nice in the moment.)

Sometimes in a really crappy situation like this, when people feel like they have little control, they end up focusing on small pieces that don’t really matter — because they’ve given up hope about the pieces that do matter. I suspect that’s what’s happening here. But you actually do have more control than you think, in that you don’t need to stay in this situation long-term if you don’t want to. If you’re as frustrated as you sound and if you’ve tried to fix things without any success, why not start actively looking for a different job? Two years is a long time to feel this way.

4. Name on my diploma is different than the name I use

I earned my undergrad and graduate degrees under my maiden name. I have since married and changed my last name. Additionally, I go by a first name that is different than my legal first name (and is not a common nickname of my legal name). Essentially, my diplomas say “Rachel Green” but at work I am known as “Monica Geller.” I’d like to display my diplomas in my office, but worry this will be confusing. For context, I work in a school and mainly deal with prospective students and their families (so it’s not like I have five coworkers to whom I could explain the discrepancy and leave it at that). It is common in our school for faculty and staff to display their diplomas. Any advice?

Some schools (many? all?) will reissue your diploma with your new name, as long as you can show that you legally changed it. That would take care of your last name, but not your first name — but it might be enough to ward off confusion, since it’s not uncommon to go by a middle name instead of a first. If your school is one that will do it, it’s probably worthwhile. (The other option, of course, is simply not to display your diplomas — which could be easier than displaying ones where both the first and last names are different than the ones you use.)

{ 835 comments… read them below }

  1. sacados*

    OP2: I agree that emailing someone to say “I’d like to schedule a phone call to let you know whether you got this job or not” is just silly. And while I personally would be totally fine with getting job offers via email, there’s also nothing wrong with an unscheduled phone call in this instance.
    If you happen to get the person’s voicemail, say something like “I’m calling to let you know that we would like to offer you this position. We are looking forward to working with you, and I will be sending you an email with the details of our offer.”
    Or something along those lines.

    1. BeeBoo*

      When I want to offer someone a job, I send them an email asking if they have 10-15 minutes to chat that afternoon/next day/etc. This is also how all job offers have come to me— an email asking a time to talk in the next day or so, allowing the hirer to offer the position and the potential hiree to ask questions/ask for x amount of time to consider the offer.

      1. sacados*

        Hmm, that is much less awkward!
        I’ve been at my current company for seven years so it’s been a while since I was last on the receiving end of a job offer. Pretty sure they always just called me, tho, without bothering to set up anything in advance.

      2. Les G*

        Serious question: at that point, why not just call and leave a voicemail (either asking them to call you back or just, you know, telling them)? The “let’s set up a phone call at X o’clock” thing would make a lot of folks justifiably anxious.

        1. Kat in VA*

          Yes, the set-up-a-call-to-chat thing makes people anxious…anecdotally, four times now in my job search, that little “chat” is actually the recruiter saying coolly, “We’re not offering you the job”.

          Then you have to fumble through awkward small talk and hear about how you were great, but not great enough, and good luck on your search, and you were a strong candidate…all the while, you just want to cry and throw your phone because you thought you had the job in the bag.

          I’ll say it again – recruiters, please do not set up a phone call for the purpose of telling a candidate that they did NOT get the job. Just send a nice, short, personal email (or a friggin’ form email, if you’re just waaaay too busy). To most job-seekers, a “quick chat” phone call means “We’re moving forward in the next stage ” or “You’re hired, any questions, we’re sending you an offer, we’d like a reply within X days.”

          1. Revolver Rani*

            When I’m ready to make an offer, I do it by phone. But the call doesn’t have to be scheduled in advance. If I get the candidate’s voicemail, I tell them why I’m calling! “Hello there, I’ve got some good news – I’d like to make you an offer to come join us. Please call me this afternoon or let me know what would be a good time for me to call you, so we can discuss the details.” There’s no reason to be vague at this stage!

              1. Revolver Rani*

                Yes, email works too – either way there’s no reason to leave a vague message at that point that might make the candidate wonder if it’s bad news. “Delighted to extend you an offer – let’s get on the phone and talk about the details” is a perfectly fine message to leave someone, whether by email or voicemail.

        2. BeeBoo*

          I like to set up time to make the call so the person can also be ready to write down any notes they want on the offer and be in a place where they can ask questions (ie so i don’t call and offer them a job while their boss is standing behind them at their current job). As a job hunter, I also appreciated being able to be in a quiet place where I could hear the offer an not be worried about being disturbed by anyone else.

      3. Justin*

        Yep, email asking for 10-15 minutes to chat, implying good news (why call for that long if you’re going to say you didn’t get it) is best policy, I feel.

        1. All About that Action*

          Agreed – I got a new job last year and I got an email from the HR person saying she had good news about the position and wanted to know when I could talk. I knew that she wouldn’t be calling to tell me the good news that they hired someone else! :)

    2. JamieS*

      Yeah I think email vs phone is pretty much a draw in this instance and comes down to personal preference.

      1. Nico m*

        Yes , but a phone call to advise of an email or an email to advise of a phone call are both clearly worse.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          I wish I had gotten an email to advise of a call when I got my last job offer. I wasn’t in the habit of keeping my phone out, so I missed the call, which came the Friday before a long weekend. By the time I saw the missed call, it was 4pm or so, and the person I was calling was out of the office. So I had to wait until Tuesday, assuming it was an offer coming, but not 100% sure of it! The good news is, they got me on the phone before I got to my office on Tuesday, and I did get the job. Phew.

          1. Ozma the Grouch*

            I’m the same way. I have to keep my phone on silent due to my office situation. So sometimes I don’t notice a personal call for a couple of hours. It really bothers me when people don’t leave a voicemail or at least follow up with an email. Last time I was job searching it drove me nuts having to keep an eye on my phone (while at work). Our offices had one place where people could take private calls and it was always being used.

    3. Tuesday Next*

      My last 3 offers have come via email, although I had been given a heads-up phone call (or even WhatsApp) to say that I should expect an offer. I prefer this because it gives me the chance to mull over the details without having someone on the other end of the phone. That would stress me out. (I also don’t process audio-only information very well.) But it would seem weird to get an unexpected offer via email. I think the call is an important part of this.

      Maybe it’s a cultural thing because I’m not in the US.

    4. Everdene*

      When interviewing I generally say ‘we are hoping to make a decision by [tonight/tomorrow] and will call you with that decision….’ I feel like that sets the expectation for the call. This is what I’ve experienced on the other side too.

      (However, I’ve now decided to let unsuccessful applicants know by email after what happened last time. Whole other story)

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        Agreed. That’s always how I’ve been informed that offers would be made, and to expect a call over the next few days (as I’m aware sometimes things get delayed). Although annoyingly that is always the day when telemarketers call, and I answer because I don’t know if it’s about the job…

        If I got an email I’d probably expect it to be a rejection and possibly an invitation to ask for feedback. An email asking to schedule a phone call would make me think I didn’t get it and they were going to give me feedback whether I liked it or not.

        1. Kat in VA*

          I will be so happy the day I acquire a job again and can let all unfamiliar numbers go straight to voicemail instead of having to answer every.single.one because so many folks use their personal cells to make phone calls.

          “Who do I know in Derry, NH? Was that recruiter from XYZ Company using a phone with a DC area code?”

          1. Audiophile*

            I definitely don’t answer all calls, not with the abundance of spam calls. I’m in the middle of a job at the moment. If it’s important enough, you’ll leave a voicemail or email me.

          2. ThatGirl*

            I got so many random, unwanted recruiter calls during my job search. Hell, I’m STILL getting some occasionally. I let them all go to voicemail. I generally only answered the phone if I saw a local area code and was specifically expecting a call.

            1. foolofgrace*

              I often let them go to VM (they’re so numerous) but in an unrelated rant, why don’t they send an email with the job description so I can tell if I’ve already been submitted for the job they’re calling about? “Hello this is Jim Shoe of Neverland Recruiters with a fabulous job opportunity! Call me back!” So many of the calls are duplicate jobs. Sheesh.

              1. Candace*

                I never answer my cell phone, because I have to have it on silent for my work environment, and I am not able to leave it out either. Mostly, it is in the bottom of my purse so I don’t see it vibrating either. If it is a recruiter, I expect them to leave a voicemail.

          3. Specialk9*

            You might Google the name of “[your mobile carrier] + scam protection”, or “[your mobile carrier] + robocall protection”. That can cut down on them, and also make sure you’re on the DNC register. Do Not Call.

          4. vonlowe*

            Then you get the robots that can spoof mobile numbers and random area codes – most insurance chasers are ‘from’ London and Manchester, for example. (Although considering I’ve had a small bump none of the have called recently!)

            1. Candace*

              I started answering calls I knew were from spammers with “MyCity Police Dept, Fraud Division, Detective Green speaking”. Boy, do they hang up fast – and often stop calling.

    5. Lalaith*

      It is silly, and can end up being torturous for the candidate. I know because I got just such an email today. The employer asked if I could do a call tomorrow, then asked if I could actually do it today, and then didn’t call yet! So I’m still not entirely sure whether it’s an offer, or another phone interview, or something else, and I’m stuck waiting till tomorrow… aughhh…

    6. Glomarization, Esq.*

      My most recent job offer was (1) phone call “out of the blue,” where I was told they were going to extend me an offer by e-mail, followed by (2) e-mail containing the offer. Context: large international company’s small regional office.

      If they had e-mailed to schedule that first phone call, I think that would have wasted everybody’s time.

    7. AM*

      Could this also be an academia thing? I’ve worked for five universities in the US and UK and I’ve always had job offers come through over email. (Junior academics especially rarely have office phones, and I don’t get cell service in my building — getting me on the phone without a prior appointment would be basically impossible!)

      1. curly sue*

        Academia here (adjunct) and it’s been email-only for the last five or six years at least. I think my first year with one school I had a phone call, confirmed acceptance, and then the contracts showed up by postal mail. Now everything’s email and I can either ask them to mail my contracts or just go in to the office to sign. It’s probably easier on everyone because hiring happens at the same time of year for so many positions.

        1. PB*

          Academia here, too. All of my job offers have come via phone, the most recent being two years ago. So, I think it varies.

          1. AES*

            Type of hire might affect this too-I generally hire adjuncts by email, but would call a TT person on the phone. (Non-academics might have similar policies re: a short-term contract hire vs the offer of a permanent full-time position.)

        2. So long and thanks for all the fish*

          My old labmate got a job as a professor offered to her via snail mail- they didn’t warn her, so she got it about a week after they sent it, because otherwise she never gets snail mail. Academia can be really weird!

        3. debonairess*

          (UK) academia – I’ve always offered and been offered by phone, for a wide range of roles. I *hate* talking on the phone so would definitely do that if it was considered a professional norm here. Alas!
          When I haven’t been able to contact someone by phone, I’ve emailed them and asked them to call me in relation to job interview blah-de-blah.
          Obviously email rather than phone rejections to avoid putting people on the spot.

        4. Avis*

          UK academia here and our HR department strongly prefer that we phone people to both offer and reject. I hate it and always ask how they would prefer we get in touch.

      2. Birch*

        Academic too–everything is over email, and “phone interviews” etc. are over Skype. Last time I traveled to an in-person interview and the offer came in through my email while I was still in the same city. Email is more reliable than voicemail, wifi is more reliable than phone service. Plus, I prefer to have things in writing. Wasn’t there a discussion here once about how the offer information should also come in email so you could look it over in writing, or am I misremembering that conversation? I thought there was also a thread about people preferring rejections via email as well.

    8. Baby Fishmouth*

      I once got a job while I was moving countries, so I didn’t really have a phone number they could call me on. They just sent me an email asking if there was a time I could call them to discuss an offer. I didn’t mind that because it made it clear I got the job from the email so there wasn’t really the anticipation of the phone call.

      I’ve also gotten emails to set up a time for a phone call, and then it turns out they’re rejecting me. Just don’t do that, OP.

    9. SKA*

      A few years ago I interviewed for a job where, unless I had a bad read on the situation, I was most likely one of the top candidates (phone interview and two in-person interviews, the second of which involved meeting the owner). The hiring manager emailed me to set up a time for a phone call. I was so excited!

      …until they called to let me know they weren’t giving me the job. I would’ve vastly preferred an email to those few hours of excitedly assuming I’d got the job.

      They also asked me on the spot if I had any questions for them. Having just had my expectations flipped around, I couldn’t exactly come up with anything. But what questions could they have expected beyond “why not me?” anyway? It’s years later now, and I’m still kind of wondering if I somehow accidentally offended the owner and the “any questions?” bit was in hopes of me asking why so they could tell me about this horrific thing I’d done.

    10. A username for aam*

      If you are going to be doing salary negotiations on a call, schedule it.

      I once got called about a job status change approval at work, in my open office, while in the middle of something, and was unable to negotiate from the shock of it. “Yes I’m interested in the job” was as far as I could get.

      One of the admins was livid they did that when I told her.

    11. Could be Anyone*

      For any job offers going to people who are currently employed, any phone call is likely going to voicemail. I certainly can’t discuss job offers at my desk. I prefer (and have had this happen) an e-mail along the lines of ‘we’d like to offer you the job, please call when you can step away to discuss the details.’ Then I know I’m not wasting my lunch break to be rejected!

  2. Mike C.*

    How does an employer ban an employee from carrying prescription medications at work without a business reason?

    Also, you can completely ignore any rule that starts with “you’re not allowed to call for an ambulance”. Unless you work on a remote site with private medical facilities, that’s a massive, massive workplace safety issue.

    And yes, your customers are part of your workplace. And how are you supposed to know that someone is overdosing rather than having diabetic issues or something else you’ve never heard of because you’re not a medical professional? Seconds f!cking count.

    1. Dram*

      Except there are all kinds of news articles about employers firing employees who did things — sometimes heroic things that saved a life — by going against a known company policy. Sometimes the news coverage will get that empoyee’s job back, but even then not always. The OP repeatedly said he/she needs this job.

        1. Mike C.*

          Alison, I wasn’t joking about survivorship guilt. I’m not making these points to win the Internet, I’m trying to make these points so folks don’t have to deal with the things I’ve seen and heard.

          I work with people who have seen their coworkers seriously injured, maimed or killed. Well, I should say “used to work”, because that feeing that “they could have been the one” or “they could have done something more” really messes with someone’s head and they often find reasons to leave or retire. I know a very nice guy with carbon fiber legs. I remember the night I was close by listening to the tv helicopters circling overhead filming him while folks were trying to figure out how to get him to a hospital. I can’t imagine how long it’s took him to get a full night’s sleep.

          Workplace safety isn’t a topic that’s taken very seriously here. Sure, the examples I’ve given are industry-specific, but issues like “being stalked at work” or “when am I allowed to call an ambulance” can affect just about any business. I get that it’s not on everyone’s minds all the time, but safety should be the first priority of any manager and we shouldn’t treat it as something that’s optional or too rare to discuss.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            It’s not being treated as something too rare to discuss. There’s plenty of discussion of it below. I removed your comment because it was too heated for the rules here, and I don’t want you chastising other commenters.

            Right now now more than 20% of the comments on this post are from you and I want to leave room for other voices as well, so I’m going to invoke the “move on once your point is made” piece of the commenting rules and ask you to pull back for a while so that you’re not dominating this post. Thank you.

            1. bluephone*

              Thank you. I’ve honestly been stepping back from reading AAM lately because I could predict, with a scary level of accuracy, which letters would lead to a diatribe starring Mike C, written by Mike C, directed by Mike C, etc. I know that’s harsh but there we are.

          2. Les G*

            I completely agree with you that OP should keep carrying narcan and calling ambulances. But, look. This blog mostly deals with white collar office workers (with this letter being a notable exception). Folks in white collar offices are not getting their legs torn off at work, and the fact that this is the example you choose to illustrate your oft-repeated point (both on this site and, shall we say, elsewhere) that Alison doesn’t care about workplace safety…well, let’s just say it’s starting to seem more like vendetta or, at best, someone who wants any opportunity to climb onto a soapbox and talk about his pet issue.

            1. Les G*

              Also, like, you know how in certain corners of the internet it’s considered the height of humor to mock the commenters who shout “GIFT OF FEEEEAAAR” about any awkward encounter with a coworker? Your little story about the helicopter is kinda a tough dude equivalent of that.

              1. Mike C.*

                Don’t mock that dude, what the heck is wrong with you? Do you have any clue what happened to him?

              2. LCL*

                Um, I live in the same region as Mike C. I think I know exactly the incident he is referring to, it received a lot of press coverage. In some industries the office people are crafts or trade people doing basically white collar tasks in direct support of the people doing sometimes hazardous work. Like, me, for one. I don’t use accidents in my workplace as examples, but I could.

            2. Mike C.*

              Plenty of white collar employees deal with safety issues – anyone that deals with the public must deal with stalking, scientists and medical professionals have laboratories and hospitals to cope with, any sort of engineer that has to work with the physical world, anyone who sits at a desk needs to deal with ergo issues and so on.

              Heck, I’m a white collar worker. Who do you think designs safety equipment and policies?

              1. Cat Herder*

                I’m a white collar worker (academia) and I have to think about safety issues, such as: what can I do to make this classroom safe in case of a shooter? am I prepared for a student or colleague or visitor who has a medical emergency? how can I be prepared for the student in my office who tells me in a jolly voice about how he took his rifle over to a neighbor’s house to deal with a little dispute? do I know how to get out of this building in case of fire and can I get my students and/or colleagues out too?

                1. BookishMiss*

                  Don’t forget my favorite: “is the potentially dangerous person physically situated in a way that blocks my exit?”

            3. Specialk9*

              My advice to OP is to keep your mouth shut and head down, and try to getting the word out in a way not associated with you, that can shame them publicly into changing the policy. So YOU do NOT post on Facebook or Yelp or Twitter.

              But someone who isn’t obviously connected to you can post on Yelp something like “this restaurant won’t let employees call an ambulance if you have a medical emergency”. That’s kind of a big deal. Don’t go into the drug stuff. (I agree with you and Alison on this topic, but focus on the easy win.)

            4. Ellen N.*

              I agree with Mike C. that on this blog many workplace safety issues are often dealt with as though workplace safety is secondary to other issues: the poster who stalked her coworker because she thought the coworker didn’t like her, the post about the person who pushed a coworker into the path of a moving car because he was phobic about birds to name two out of many.

              It’s possible that many blue collar workers aren’t writing because the way their issues are dealt with on this blog make them believe that their concerns won’t be taken seriously.

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                Hang on, though. There were plenty of people commenting on both those letters that were horrified about what happened, and I remember for a fact that a lot of people criticized the management’s handling of the bird phobia guy. Yes, there were people on the other side of that discussion, as is usually the case on the internet. But it’s not a fair characterization of Alison’s answers to those questions or the comments on them as good examples of people’s concerns about safety not being taken seriously, unless you think that taking people’s concerns safely means everyone commenting has to agree with you about what that looks like.

                1. Ellen N.*

                  I disagree with you (with more respect than you showed toward me).

                  Alison’s answer to the poster about the man who was phobic of birds stated that the person who was pushed in the way of a moving car shouldn’t be able to have the person who pushed her fired. In my view, that is putting other concerns above workplace safety.

                  Alison didn’t think that the stalker should be fired. I believe that stalking is a workplace safety issue and a firing offense.

                  I believe that in both these cases (and many others) Alison has put other concerns above workplace safety.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Whoa, that’s not correct. With the person who showed up at her coworker’s house because of her anxiety, I didn’t say she shouldn’t be fired. I suggested that she should let her employer know she was in treatment. If her manager had written in, it would have been a whole different post, but I was talking to the person who wrote to me, she knew she’d done something horrible, and she didn’t need to me to browbeat her about it. I think you’ll find I don’t browbeat anyone who writes in and knows they messed up.

                  And with the bird phobia — which was easily the most divisive letter ever printed here, with reasonable people on both sides of the debate — I said you can’t let an employee dictate that another employee be fired, and I stand by that. That’s a decision an employer needs to make on their own. I did note that I thought it was reasonable not to fire the person as long as they had a plan for ensuring his phobia never endangered anyone there again, but that reasonable people could argue it either way, which in fact is what ensued in the comment section. (I also think that if the employee had a physical condition that caused him to bump into the coworker, rather than a mental one, people would have been much less punitive toward him, and that’s disturbing.)

          3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I don’t think people are cavalier about workplace safety. But I do think it’s useful for OP to know they can be fired if they call an ambulance or carry Narcan.

            I don’t think the policy is right, and I think it’s misguided and ethically/morally problematic. But in college, the economy had not yet imploded, and I was in a region where I had the ability to get fired and easily find a replacement job. So I feel pretty confident that I would be ok with getting fired for doing what I thought was right (calling an ambulance and carrying Narcan), in part because I did get reprimanded and threatened with termination for doing something I thought was right (although it was more grey than the bright-line bans that OP’s employers have imposed).

            But that may not be the case for OP, and it’s helpful for OP to know that there’s no legal or other protection for violating the employer’s policy in this regard.

            1. Semi-regular*

              People are absolutely cavalier about work place safety. I don’t disagree with the rest of your post, but I strongly disagree that people take this issue as seriously as it should be taken.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Wait, the commentariat? Because that’s what Mike C. is referring to, and I don’t know if I agree if we’re talking about “people who comment” v. “people in the U.S. in general.”

                1. Semi-regular*

                  I wouldn’t say both, to varying degrees. It’s not necessarily that they don’t care; more that they don’t have the experience to understand the importance.

      1. Not Australian*

        I suspect what OP’s worried about is being in a situation where they have to choose between saving their job and doing the right thing, and I think we all know that they’ll do the right thing – i.e. call an ambulance. Any employer that would put a staff member in this position is really not worth working for, and in fact this sort of prohibition should be illegal. I do understand that OP needs *a* job, but these employers are making it very difficult to stay with them.

        1. Mike C.*

          I’m sure the OPs worried about a whole lot of things, but having to decide whether or not to call for medical help in an emergency isn’t one of those things.

          1. Cat Herder*

            Actually, Mike C, I think this is exactly what the OP is worried about, unless you mean you are sure the OP will do the right thing and call for medical help. I’m not sure if you are saying “Yay OP” or “OP isn’t thinking about this”.

        2. Elizabeth*

          If the OP working at the restaurant is in the US and calls 911, couldn’t they “blame” the 911 dispatcher for sending an ambulance vs a police car? In other words, they call 911 and report the emergency (using language to make clear the person is having a medical emergency that may be drug-related), and tell the manager “hey- looks like the dispatcher decided to send an ambulance instead of a police car – I just reported the situation, and they insisted on sending an ambulance.”

          1. Bea*

            With 911, if it’s a medical emergency the police are going to come regardless. Police often are closer and have first aid training.

            1. foolofgrace*

              That hasn’t been my experience, though it might be true in cases of gunshot wounds and such. When I had a medical emergency, the ambulance came and took me away and no police showed up. Unless they made an appearance after I was gone, which is unlikely since the medical personnel were there for quite a while.

              1. Solidus Pilcrow*

                Like so many things in the US, this is going to vary widely based on the municipality policies and availability of personnel. Some places automatically send fire trucks with ambulances, regardless of the type of call.

                Elizabeth’s strategy may work, but the OP has to know what the typical emergency response is in their area.

              2. nicepants*

                This falls under my work wheelhouse. 911 is definitely different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction sometimes shockingly so. Police in general do something commonly referred to as self dispatch. That means when a call goes out, the closest to the area respond, and of course say they are responding. Most police have basic first aid training including cpr, so often, at least in my area, they will respond if they are close enough to do so so they can start first aid before the ambulance arrives.

              3. Beaded Librarian*

                Depends on the medical emergency. If the situation is at all unclear the policy of many emergency services is that a police officer is dispatched at the same time.
                Personal experience, had to call an ambulance for an ex after finding them confused with rug burn on their face in the kitchen when I came in after getting ready for work. Since I didn’t know exactly what happened they dispatched police with the ambulance for safety. Turned out it was a seizure.

            2. Specialk9*

              Bea, that wasn’t the case when I rode an ambulance. The cops showed up for dangerous calls, bless their hearts (in the most genuine and heartfelt way), for a cop injured on the job, for domestics, or if they were bored (let’s be real).

              But they generally didn’t show up to every medical incident because they were super busy, and because we didn’t need them.

              I think this is very variable.

          2. Wrenn*

            That’s kind of what I was thinking. The 911 dispatcher decides what emergency services to send. You can obviously request a specific one, like the firefighters if something is burning or an ambulance if someone is hurt, but they make the final call. And since the cops are already out on the street patrolling, they are usually the first ones there.

            1. Specialk9*

              I mean, yeah, 911 decides. But there’s also a lot of self-dispatching, which can be a problem. But most times, you’re over in the apparatus, watching the cool call or cool response, and ready to be dispatched to a real call, same as if you were all going out for lunch.

          3. LCL*

            That’s my thought on it also. Call 911, let them sort it out. I have used 911 for emergencies, and that is how they roll. The dispatchers asks questions to figure out what type of assistance is needed, the caller doesn’t decide who to send.

          4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Yes—OP wouldn’t get to decide who to dispatch, anyway. If they call 911 and report an overdose and say they have no Narcan, 911 is going to send whoever they think it’s appropriate to send.

          5. Ozma the Grouch*

            It depends on how you report the emergency to the dispatcher. If you state that it is a medical emergency, the EMTs will be called to the location first. If you report it as a crime in progress, the police will be called. If you report it as both, they will both be dispatched. Unless you sound like you know what you are talking about, the 911 operator should probe you and try to get as much information out of you as possible so that everything is on the record and they have the information they need to respond correctly. Honestly the OP should just be as clear as possible with the 911 operators. I’m assuming that before they would just call it in as a medical emergency and not mention drugs.

            1. TardyTardis*

              True. I called 911 for a medical emergency with my husband (kidney failure, lapse in blood sugar because diabetic drugs were not metabolizing), and only the ambulance showed up.

          6. Wintermute*

            I concur entirely.

            the 911 dispatcher will send the most appropriate aid for the situation, and will keep in mind things like response time. There is no practical way to call for “just an ambulance and only an ambulance”, you call for emergency aid and they send what they send you.

            If you call in someone non-responsive with respiratory trouble, they’ll absolutely make that a priority call, and the closest response might be a cop, but cops carry narcan these days and the end result is the same– you save their life.

            And conversely in areas hard-hit by overdoses police might follow up at the hospital anyway, so it’s not like the fact an ambulance shows up is any assurance of anything.

            Save their life first, that’s your responsibility, you do that by calling 911.

      2. JustaTech*

        I have a friend who was once fired from her waitress job for calling an ambulance on a man who had been mugged and seriously injured (I’ll spare us all the details). The night manager seemed to think the restaurant could somehow be liable or get sued or something if they called an ambulance. No, it doesn’t make a darned bit of sense, and the next day the day manager hired her back with an apology.

    2. JamieS*

      To answer your questions

      1. It’s not really that hard to do. They just state the policy and people who don’t abide are fired. They might make the extra effort and also post signs or put in an employee manual but that isn’t required.

      The fact the staff are presumably not medical professionals may be a reason narcan was banned if the owners are worried about potential liability which would be a business reason.

      2. My understanding is that if you call the police (911 not non emergency line) and report someone overdosed (or other medical issue) they’ll send out an ambulance as well as officers.

      3. Yes, customers are part of a work place but I’d argue that in most circumstances a business has the right to decide what kind of customer they want so barring drug users is within their rights.

      1. Marzipan*

        Surely, even if you called the non-emergency number, they’d still say an ambulance was needed and transfer your call/tell you to hang up and call the emergency number?

        1. JamieS*

          I would think so but I don’t know if it’s standard practice or not. It’s also possible if you call the nonemergency number you could wind up getting a voicemail or would just be advised to call the emergency line so they wouldn’t really be too much help. Although I highly doubt the nonemergency line is being called so a bit of a moot point.

            1. JamieS*

              What are you talking about? It’s a moot point because the non-emergency line wouldn’t even be called in the first place. Therefore, since it probably wouldn’t even be called, whether of not it’s standard practice for them to send out ambulances is likely a moot point because they wouldn’t be involved in the first place.

              1. Mike C.*

                I’ve explained this two or three times now.

                When an employer threatens people for using emergency services, they’re going to hesitate or think twice before using them.

                When an employer fosters a bad safety culture, employees get hurt more often and more seriously.

                1. JamieS*

                  And as I’ve explained numerous times they aren’t barring people from using emergency services. The policy is to call the police (meaning call 911) and the dispatcher will decide who to send out. In practical terms the new policy just means they’re no longer calling the outreach people or trying to avoid police involvement.

                2. Marzipan*

                  But there is a world of difference between saying ‘if someone collapses and seems to have taken drugs, you must make this clear to 911 and request police involvement’ and saying ‘and you mustn’t call an ambulance’. A world. A whole solar system.

                  With most of what the company want to instigate, I can understand on a human level why the OP objects but equally I can see on a management level why they want to do the things. The ambulance thing, though, in the most generous interpretation, is unhelpfully unclear. I think, as I’ve already said, that ambulances will be dispatched anyway, but the potential consequences of any policy other than ‘if someone collapses call an ambulance’ are hugely significant.

                3. Mookie*

                  The employer wants a suspected overdose to be reported first and foremost as a crime, the victim an Untouchable trespasser, JamieS. That is a shameful and irresponsible attitude and, given the community the LW lives in, totally tonedeaf. You don’t stigmatize this epidemic as a crimewave and you don’t deliberately prioritize the comfort of your patrons and your own reputation over the life of someone suffering from an as-yet undetermined illness. Or, if you do, you deserve everything that’s coming to you and your business. I feel badly for the LW and her colleagues, though, and the guests who are clearly not safe on thes premises.

                4. Ender*

                  Jamie is right. If you call emergency services to say someone is overdosing they will send an ambulance whether you ask for the police or not. (In my country at least – America might be different.) so that policy probably won’t lead to someone dying of an overdose being refused an ambulance.

                  I’m not familiar with narcan so I don’t know if it’s actually lifesaving or not, so I can’t comment on that aspect.

                  Aside from the narcan ban it sounds to me like all the other rules won’t have any safety effect but will just make the restaurant less attractive to addicts

                5. JamieS*

                  Marzipan, the letter didn’t say the company forbade ambulance involvement. That is something that was added in the comment section.

                  Mookie, whether or not reporting drug use as a crime as shameful is irrelevant. A business isn’t obligated to not call the police if someone is breaking the law even if you don’t agree with the law. They’re in the business of serving food not saving addicts from themselves.

                6. Marzipan*

                  The letter literally says “We used to call an ambulance … Now we are only allowed to call the cops”. Possibly the OP intended something slightly different by that but read as written the letter does indeed say they can’t call ambulances. I find that highly problematic and can’t think of any reasonable basis for they policy. (I don’t really have an issue with the rest of what they’re doing.)

                7. JamieS*

                  The letter said calling ambulance and community outreach. There’s every indication they didn’t previously involve police and now they do. That is the change not trying to activately prevent ambulances.

                  Since the ambulance would be dispatched by calling 911 the only way the policy would intend to prevent ambulance involvement would be if it said “try to actively prevent the ambulance from being dispatched when calling police”.

                8. Marzipan*

                  I’m genuinely trying to understand this. What would be the purpose of telling staff not to call an ambulance? I’m not disagreeing that calling the police is reasonable and makes sense, but why would you not want your team to call an ambulance?

                9. Snark*

                  My feeling is that they were not calling 911, but were using a different channel to call paramedics and the street outreach team (like an overdose hotline). A caller can’t tell 911 not to send the cops, fire department, and full shebang, they just dispatch who they think they need to. But if you were using a back channel for a quiet and discreet response, that could reasonably be banned in favor of just calling 911.

                10. JamieS*

                  Marzipan, the policy is either nothing more than a semantic s change re: cops vs ambulance and the meat of the change is don’t call the outreach people or what Snark said is correct.

          1. Ashlee*

            In my city, the non-emergency line is actually picked up by 911, so even if it they call the non-emergency in reference to an overdose, the ambulance is going to be dispatched and that shouldn’t cause the employee to be fired.

        2. nicepants*

          Depends on the jurisdiction. Many direct agency non-emergency numbers go to a desk some where and there’s no guarantee it will be answered. Many non-emergency dispatch numbers go to the exact same place 911 does.

        3. D'Arcy*

          In virtually all jurisdictions, non-emergency is fully able to dispatch an ambulance, or to escalate the call to emergency if the dispatcher deems it necessary. As a security patrol officer, I call non-emergency for medical requests almost as often as I do for police assistance.

      2. saddesklunch*

        Narcan is a true antidote to opioids – there are no potential serious side effects (or, to my knowledge, side effects of any kind) to administering it to someone who is not overdosing. It’s perfectly safe for those who are not medical professionals to use and it saves lives.

        1. JamieS*

          That in no way means a business wouldn’t be worried about liability. Worrying about liability and actually being liable are two separate things.

          Considering the wide range of the potential health conditions a person could be in I also doubt it’s impossible to ever have a serious negative side effect from narcan. If that’s true it’s incredibly impressive but again not really relevant to whether a business could plausibly be concerned about employees administering medicine.

          1. Mike C.*

            1. People are educated on how to use Narcan before getting a prescription.

            2. Good Samaritan laws.

            1. JamieS*

              The standard isn’t whether or not a person can properly administer narcan, although education isn’t a 100% guarantee someone can properly administer it, but rather it’s reasonable for a business to have a policy barring employees from administering medication and that’s not an unreasonable policy to have.

              1. Mike C.*

                Any policy that prevents a reasonable person from taking reasonable means to save a life is a monsterous policy to enact.

                People’s lives are more important than the imaginary fears of liability of small business owners. I can’t belive I even have to say this.

                1. sunny-dee*

                  Except the PARAMEDICS can administer narcan when they arrive,and that seems like a much better solution.

                  PS, having a “prescription” means a drug is for personal use. You can’t get a prescription for a drug you administer to random strangers.

                2. Someone On-Line*

                  Well, you kind of can with Narcan. There are a number of places and people who keep some on hand for whomever should need it. I know in my state you have to take a training before you receive a dose, but it is meant for whomever.

                3. K*

                  I wanted to reply to sunny-dee below you…
                  You do not need a prescription for narcan. It is available OTC at just about every pharmacy.

                4. blackcat*

                  @sunny dee

                  There are programs to allow the general public to cary Narcan.

                  Also, good Samaritan laws can be pretty broad depending on location. I have stabbed a stranger with my epi-pens when 911 said an ambulance was ~10 minutes out. The person was purple and I didn’t think he had 10 minutes. Ambulance and then cops arrived, I handed over my epi-pens so they paramedics would know what they person had gotten (I did one, waited, did the other, per the instructions I’ve had for myself). Both the paramedics and cops thanked me for what I did. The man might have died if I didn’t do it. Even though it was my prescription for personal use, it’s okay to give another person your prescription medication in live-threatening situations in almost all jurisdictions (and even if it isn’t explicitly legal, who is going to prosecute that case?!).

                  (The only thing that was a PITA, was that my insurance wouldn’t pay for a replacement since I didn’t use it on myself and it wasn’t expired. They only pay for 1 set every year unless a doctor documents you using them.)

                5. neeko*

                  @sunny-dee

                  You don’t always need a prescription for narcan. It’s very much NOT a personal use drug. And many times, it’s way to long to wait for paramedics to administer it. It’s absolutely a life saving, not risk drug and we need to destigmatize it.

            2. It'sNan*

              Narcan is not prescription where I’m at. I can walk into Walgreens and buy it. Sometimes the time it takes the paramedics to get there is too late. If my employer forbade me from helping someone in need, I’d be furious.

              1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

                Yes, this! The narcan ban seems really, really bad, to the point I don’t think Alison appropriately addressed it in her answer. They live in an area with a high population of overdoses- it’s not that weird to think some of their employees have it on them all the time to be good samaritans. I think everything else the business is doing is reasonable (though I agree with the OP that it’s much better to treat this medically)- but the managers are saying that their employees are required to not carry medication that could save someone’s life, under threat of termination. You can make the restaurant inhospitable to addicts all you want, but they’re addicts- some population is going to OD no matter how much you try to dissuade them, and it seems incredibly punitive for the managers to forbid their employees from being able to potentially save them.

                1. ket*

                  I agree. I think this has not been addressed sufficiently. Everything else the employer is doing I can disagree with but also roll with. Forbidding administration of Narcan, though, is literally allowing people to die to discourage them from using the premises. Having that on my conscience would not be worth the employment.

              2. Det. Charles Boyle*

                Black Cat, in some states it’s illegal to administer your Epipen to someone else. Of course, you would be a hero for saving someone’s life, but for example, if you were a nurse, you might be disciplined by your board and maybe charged with the unlicensed practice of medicine. I don’t know if this is different for Narcan.

                1. D'Arcy*

                  Good Samaritan laws apply to dispensing *first aid* efforts within your scope of practice. Using your own prescription medication on someone else is *way* outside scope of practice for anyone who doesn’t have prescribing authority.

              3. Decima Dewey*

                The policy OP 1 describes seems like a public relations disaster waiting to happen. What if someone at the restaurant dies of an overdose while waiting for the police to come? Or the person refused service because they’re suspected of being high has just come from the ophthalmologist’s or had a medical event of some sort?

                1. Specialk9*

                  I think it sounds like a PR disaster that OP should orchestrate, but in a way that doesn’t get them fired.

              4. Nerdy Library Clerk*

                A lot of public libraries actually have Narcan – at least the library district I work at does, as do the libraries in a nearby city. People can end up ODing anywhere, and the best way to make sure no one dies in your establishment from an overdose is to have Narcan on hand.

          2. Susana*

            I’ll own up right now to not knowing what I’m talking about, legal-wise, but aren’t they worried about legal repercussions for refusing to call for medical help if someone is in grave physical danger? And again, I don’t know much about the timing, with opioid ODs, but from what I’ve had, MINUTES make a difference. I can’t imagine anyone wow be expected to carry narcon, of course.

          3. McWhadden*

            There is way more liability issues with refusing to call an ambulance then with carrying narcan.

            1. Anonymosity*

              Hell yes.
              When I was living in CA, a customer who regularly patronized the restaurant where I worked would often show up when he felt unwell. He knew we were obligated to call an ambulance if he collapsed (he had some kind of seizure disorder).

              The restaurant eventually banned him from coming back but we never, ever didn’t call. We were told we had to. I don’t know if it was a state or a city thing.

          4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Most states (or subregions) with significant opioid problems have been training employers on liability concerns because, as Mike C. noted, most states that are grappling with this problem have insulated Good Samaritans from liability for the specific things OP notes (delivering Narcan, calling 911). Based on OP’s letter, it doesn’t sound like the business is concerned with liability. It sounds like they don’t want to be “attractive” to addicts, and they don’t want to employ addicts.

            Naloxone can have negative side effects, but those side effects are not “serious.” And when compared to the consequences of not administering Naloxone, or delaying its delivery, failure to administer it is much worse than the drug’s side effects. Further, Naloxone does not require a prescription—unlike an EpiPen, which I think most people would argue should be administered when needed, regardless of training—and can be administered by nearly anyone, ideally with appropriate training. Several cities and states are now training public employees who frequently interact with the public (e.g., libraries, clinics, teachers, university staff, food banks, the DMV) in how to administer it.

            When you OD on opiates, you stop breathing, which deprives your brain of oxygen (cerebral hypoxia). Oxygen deprivation for 60 seconds or less is unlikely to cause permanent damage. But at 4+ minutes, brain cells begin to die, and oxygen deprivation can cause permanent, irreversible damage. If a person feels morally/ethically compelled to deliver Naloxone, their decision to do so most likely would not open their employer up to legal liability, and it could well be lifesaving.

            1. Nurse Molly*

              Yes. Plus many don’t realize that the timeline for intervention with Narcan in the case of fentanyl overdose is SECONDS and even efforts to ventilate the patients with rescue breathing or etc often fail.

              Also to those who think they don’t need a prescription for Narcan, even when you buy it from a pharmacist, the pharmacist writes the prescription based on a protocol. The Narcan is dispensed as a prescription would be with your name on it. You can also get free Narcan from a needle exchange van that operates off of standing orders from a consulting physician.

            2. JM60*

              And if you ban narcan on the grounds that you can just have a cop or medic deal with our, a 911 response time of 5 minutes is probably enough to cause irreversible brain damage or death. The national average response time in the US for emergency calls is about 10 minutes!

        2. EMT Here*

          As an EMT, I am genuinely upset by the idea of a civilian administering Narcan. In fact, EMT Basics in my state were not even allowed to administer Narcan for some time, and now it requires extra training. Narcan can cause projectile vomiting, which causes significant personal risk for the person administering it (think forceful, widespread distribution of bodily fluids which may contain any number of serious or life threatening diseases). Also, I have personally experienced many people come out of their high swinging after the administration of Narcan. They’re angry that their high was ruined, and they’re angry at you. You need people ready and waiting to restrain them.

          Its a really, really dangerous thing for untrained restaurant personnel to be doing. Sure, its their choice if they want to take on that risk, but I can understand the owner’s hesitance to take on the liability if it looks like they’re condoning it.
          Especially since, this isn’t really a life-death thing. Its pretty rare that the 4 minute wait for the ambulance to arrive would make the difference in the effectiveness of Narcan.

          1. Holly*

            I think the concern is that it wouldn’t take 4 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. In my city I can’t imagine an ambulance being able to get to where I am that quick. Maybe they can and I am just unaware.

            1. EMT Here*

              I went with the national average. Obviously, those times vary depending on how rural you are. One thing to keep in mind is all firefighters and police, especially in rural areas, are typically trained to at least the EMT-Basic level and *should* carry Narcan. So response times might be even shorter if you’re calling 911 and allowing the police to respond, instead of some kind of private nonprofit overdose clinic with an ambulance which seems to be the case here.

              All I’m saying is this isn’t like a heart attack where your brain is being denied oxygen and seconds count. It typically takes 1-3 HOURS to die of a heroin overdose. Obviously this is different if its been cut with fentanyl, but Narcan is largely ineffective against that anyway.

              1. Nurse Molly*

                With fentanyl, which has been found in the majority of recent OD deaths in my area, the window for intervention is literally seconds.

                Our Surgeon General recommends everyone carry Narcan, just like everyone should be CPR certified.

            2. Specialk9*

              I worked in some big cities. We responded fast, especially since most stations have overlapping circles – 1st due, 2nd due, and 3rd due. That means if our ambiance was on a call, the next over fire station took the call. I know people who worked in rural areas, where the response times were slowed by long distances. So it really values.

              1. Holly*

                Maybe I’m just underestimate how effective my city ambulances are – I assumed they’d get stuck in traffic or some other issue.

          2. blue canary*

            This is an interesting comment. Where I live, in one of the worst states for the opioid epidemic, you can go to our city’s health department and get Narcan to carry around with you. I’m not sure if you get a lot of training or not.

          3. A Different EMT*

            Hi, I’m also an EMT, and with respect, I disagree with nearly all of your points.

            In my state, not only are EMT-Bs allowed to administer narcan (although they weren’t when I started fifteen years ago), but police officers carry narcan as well and distribute it almost as often as we do. There is also a state-wide program to provide narcan over-the-counter to addicts and their families.

            Projectile vomiting may be a potential side effect, but it’s not exactly common, and drug overdosing in general carries the risk of vomiting, as does performing CPR.

            As for “people coming up swinging because their high was ruined,” this is my biggest pet peeve and I am constantly correcting this common misconception amongst firefighters and EMTs. Opioid overdoses kill by making the patient stop breathing. When you administer narcan, you restart their breathing, but the patient is hypoxic. Lack of oxygen makes people disoriented, agitated, and violent. The patient who’s just woken up from an overdose is not yet thinking clearly enough to process “I was high -> now I am in withdrawal -> these people must have given me narcan and ruined my high,” (although that may come later). They are disoriented and hypoxic, and surrounded by strangers. That’s why they often struggle.

            Finally, not all jurisdictions have a 4 minute response time for an ambulance. In some places it can be much longer. And 4 minutes absolutely matters when a patient is in respiratory arrest.

            I’m not touching on the argument about liability, because that’s not my area of expertise, and it sounds like there’s a lot of room for debate. I just wanted to get the facts out there.

            1. EMT Here*

              I understand that the new common practice is to distribute Narcan to the public, and I understand that its because you’re giving addicts a chance to save their addicted friends, because they wouldn’t call 911 even if it was a matter of life or death. That’s pretty different from a restaurant worker trying to take the place of 911.

              I do see your point about the initial aggressive response not being directly tied to you ruining their high. Regardless of the immediate reason for someone to come up swinging, its still a common occurrence and having acts of violence committed against you by someone with drugs in their system is a huge risk for the public to take on. I have experienced addicts cussing me out for ruining their high (or ruining their friend’s high) many times, so I do think my logic there is still reasonable.

              4 minutes absolutely matters when a person is in respiratory arrest. But I’m assuming, potentially incorrectly, that in a restaurant overdoses are detected soon after the ‘passing out phase’ and a while before the ‘respiratory arrest’ phase.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                The policy rationale for distributing Narcan to the public is not to give “addicts a chance to save their addicted friends.” As a non-public-health state employee who deals with folks experiencing addiction, this line of argumentation is exceptionally frustrating.

                Look, I live and work in a rural part of the state where meth and opiate use is especially high. My employer is in a city with a 4–6 minutes ambulance response time. Rural residents on the fringe of that city have response times of 8–10 minutes, and truly rural folks (i.e., 10-20 miles away from a city) have to wait 20–45 minutes, and sometimes 1+ hours to receive a bus.

                Our employer is training all of us non-medical-personnel in how to administer Naloxone. They’re doing it because they’re treating the opioid epidemic as a public health crisis and are trying to prevent people from suffering irreversible brain damage. They know when we’re out in the field, we may be the closest “responder” on hand, even if we’re not EMT-Bs.

                I grew up in a post-industrial city that was hard hit by the crack epidemic, and it had a devastating effect that lasted for decades. To this day, the smell of crack smoke is burned into my brain. I wish that the powers that be had treated the crack epidemic as a public health crisis, and I wish there were a Naloxone equivalent for cocaine. I know many people disagree with me (they certainly did in the 80s), but I don’t think we can solve a health crisis by dehumanizing addicts and treating their lives as if they have no worth.

                1. Decima Dewey*

                  In Philadelphia there are posters on public transit urging people to learn how to use Narcan and learn how to use. Some library branch staff have been trained (and have had to use) Narcan when a patron ODs. More training is going to be offered.

                  Again, from a public relations perspective, it’s better that someone on the scene use Narcan than for a place of business to end up on the news because a customer died of an overdose and no one in the establishment did anything to help.

                2. Specialk9*

                  Thanks for this. I also grew up in a similar post-industrial city that was hard hit by the crack epidemic, and it was really shameful and harmful. (Even more so because the harm, and crackdown, was almost exclusively focused on people of color.)

                  I wish people would stop violent moralizing and start empathizing, because being a hardass against addiction is useless and bad for people and society.

              2. JustaTech*

                Sir, even the addicts I know who have used narcan use it as they are calling 911, not in place of calling 911. I highly doubt that any restaurant worker would not call 911.

              3. General Ginger*

                My state is affected by the opioid epidemic. I live in the suburban-ish (barely) part of my town, surrounded by a rural area. The ambulance wait times vary greatly depending on how far out you go. Four minutes is definitely not the standard everywhere.

              4. Nurse Molly*

                This sort of misunderstanding of the process of intervening in overdose and the bias against people suffering from addiction concerns me as a healthcare professional

            2. neeko*

              Thank you for this comment. There are so so so many misconceptions about narcan and addicts in general and I appreciate you helping to destigmatize it with FACTS.

            3. Doctor*

              Doctor here, and I agree that 4 minutes is a big ducking deal if you’re not breathing. It’s a bfd even for a completely healthy young adult who was taking deep breaths of 100% oxygen (room air is only 21% O2) right before going apneic.

              Most people wouldn’t hold off on using an Epipen on someone experiencing anaphylaxis because “the 4min wait for the ambulance isn’t a big deal”- it’s just the moral implications of narcan that’s changing their attitudes.

              1. AKchic*

                “…its just the moral implications of narcan that’s changing their attitudes.”

                Yes. That entire sentence. Honestly, that entire paragraph, but I wanted that sentence highlighted. I want it needlepointed and hung up in my office.
                Some people want to sit in judgement over other peoples’ lives and pretend that they defecate rose petals. People in glass houses… tsk tsk. I will refrain from pointing out a certain commonality for the majority of the judgmental ones I see in my personal life (however, I call them out away from AAM).

              2. EMT Here*

                I agree that lack of oxygen for 4 minutes is a BFD. If someone really, truly was in the respiratory arrest phase of a drug overdose, I would encourage basically anyone to administer Narcan if they can get their hands on it and are willing to accept the risks to their personal safety. Heck, I’d encourage them to attempt compression-only CPR even if they’ve only ever watched it on TV. After all, they can only improve the situation.
                My point is that if you’re in a populated area, like, say, a restaurant, and you OD, and people watch you OD… chances are you aren’t at that phase yet. Short of fentanyl, people usually don’t just take a drug and immediately stop breathing. They don’t go immediately into respiratory distress. First they slump over, get incoherent, then pass out. You don’t want people running around administering Narcan to people who probably have a long time to go before they actually are at risk of dying from lack of oxygen. Its not worth the risk.
                It’s got nothing to do with a stigma of allergy vs drug. Its got to do with taking risks only when helpful and appropriate.

                1. ket*

                  Why would anyone be watching you OD? You’re in the bathroom, you locked the door, and no one is going to bug you until the woman with the four-year-old who needs to pee loses it and gets the manager.

                2. Nerdy Library Clerk*

                  People have died in public library restrooms from overdoses. That’s *why* libraries have started having Narcan on hand. You absolutely can’t assume that someone who ODs in a public place will be found before they’re in respiratory arrest.

            4. Jaid_Diah*

              There are librarians in Philadelphia who carry Narcan, because they’re finding patrons who OD’d, like, on the lawn of their building and stuff.
              :-(

          4. Another EMT*

            To add onto what EMT here commented.

            People also tend to wake up swinging after narcan administration because the heroin slows their breathing and deprives the brain of oxygen. The brain isn’t functioning normally and they’re running off of very base primitive human instincts so fight or flight kicks in. This is why we use a bag valve mask to ventilate the patient before giving narcan if they are out enough that their breathing has slowed. That way when they wake up, their brain has the oxygen it needs and they are calmer. It would be more realistic to teach the employees how to use a bag valve mask to breathe for the OD victim and wait for EMS to give narcan (narcan wakes you up, but it’s not “needed”. All the person needs is to keep breathing.)

            And yes, narcan has some dangerous side effects, some of which are listed in another comment. In my state dealers sometimes mix opiods with “uppers” to help prevent an OD. In some cases the narcan will react poorly with whatever upper they used and cause the lungs to fill with fluid. It’s not common or well known but I have talked to paramedics who have had it happen to their patient. If that happens and you do not have a trained medical professional nearby that person will drown in their own fluid.

            The opiate epidemic is sad. I have many thoughts on it, but this is not the platform. Please don’t judge the user, but remember in the case of an OD your safety must come first!

            1. EMT Here*

              That’s a great point about the bag valve mask. Much lower risk and more useful in a wide variety of medical emergencies. Extra oxygen is almost never a bad idea.

              1. grey*

                I’ve been meaning to put together a first aid kit for my car. I would *never* have thought to include one in that kit, but now I plan to after reading these comments.

                1. JustaTech*

                  It’s also nice in case whoever you’re rescue-breathing throws up, so it doesn’t get into your mouth.

                2. EMT Here*

                  Only word of caution- make sure you get enough training that you can be sure you’re inflating their lungs and not their stomach. But yeah, getting them actual fresh non-exhaled air, and not risking bodily fluid transfer: both great bonuses.

          5. Positive Reframer*

            From the letter it sounds like the LW and coworkers are experiencing this often, so formal training or not they are experienced. This is something they apparently need to do on a routine basis. How have we come to this?

            1. Michaela Westen*

              Not to derail, but IME and IMHO it’s the elites trying to take all the money for themselves, which makes many people unable to earn a decent wage, which makes them depressed and desperate, which leads to drug use…
              I also think the oppression of women and children is a factor. When I was young in a fundamentalist area, it was very clear I would not get help if I had serious problems. Only judgment and punishment.

              1. Specialk9*

                Yeah. Those, and swapping computers, robots, and cheap outsourced labor without any local work to replace it. Focusing on the bottom dollar causes a lot of widespread harm.

          6. A Cita*

            Sincere question: isn’t vomit also a real threat when administering mouth to mouth during CPR? In that case, a real threat of vomiting into the administrator’s mouth. Most people don’t carry around a mouth shield/guard to protect from that, so would you recommend strangers not administer mouth to mouth in situations where it could prolong life until EMTs arrive?

            1. EMT Here*

              Actually, I have always carried a keychain that includes a guard for this very reason (as do almost all of my health-professional friends). And gloves in my glovebox, purse, etc. It is drilled into us that we can’t help people if we don’t help ourselves first.
              But the decision to risk your safety to help someone in a life threatening emergency is a very personal one, and there is no wrong answer. Many people (sometimes incorrectly) feel the risk is low with people they know. Others (correctly) feel the actual risk of getting some kind of horrible disease from spit is rather low, and choose to take the risk on strangers. Usually you need blood transfer for the ‘big bads’, which can happen from vomit but isn’t nearly as risky as sticking your hands in someone’s blood. But, it is well known that drug users are a particularly at-risk population and as such I take extra precautions. I’ve had a drug user spit in my eyes and the weeks of testing and fear was horrible.
              Given my experience with the gut-wrenching fear and the significant increase in risk with a drug-using population, I would tend to dissuade people from taking that risk with OD cases. Especially when chances are its not actually necessary in terms of saving the person’s life. And extra-especially since its awful difficult to clear the airway of someone who just vomited and is now fighting you tooth and nail- meaning you might do more harm than good.
              But if I saw someone in respiratory distress from non-OD reasons and I didn’t see obvious signs of bodily fluids but didn’t have a guard? Maybe.

              1. This comment thread is already off topic*

                So you’re saying you’d help someone who wasn’t overdosing, but not someone who was. With respect, I think you might be in the wrong field if you can’t leave your personal biases against drug use at the door.

                1. JerryLarryTerryGary*

                  They’re saying they wouldn’t take the risk of not using protection when coming into contact with an IV drug user’s fluids.
                  I think that is legitimate and necessary. Especially for EMTs- they work a hard, dangerous job for low wages and shouldn’t be shamed for taking basic precautions to protect themselves.

                2. Michaela Westen*

                  Would you take the risk of catching HIV from a stranger who chose to take drugs? This is a very personal decision that should be respected.

                3. EMT Here*

                  With respect?
                  I have no biases against drug use. I routinely put my life on the line, on a volunteer basis, to help people who have used drugs. We try as hard as we can to save them all, even the 3rd, 4th, 5th time they OD and put our lives at risk in the process. I tried very hard to detail every part of my decision making process in my above post.
                  It has nothing to do with the fact that they are drug users, and everything to do with the fact that I would be putting myself, and my husband, at a significant increased risk of a serious illness and inability to have kids in the future. If I were to perform unguarded rescue breathing on a known drug user. Who is by definition at a high risk for serious incurable illness. Which I wouldn’t need to do, because I carry PPE with me everywhere. So that I can help everyone, even the drug users.

                4. Myrin*

                  That’s not what EMT Here said – she said “I would tend to dissuade people from taking that risk with OD cases”, referring to other people, not herself in the line of duty.

              2. A Cita*

                Thank you for your well thought out response. I’ve been CPR certified and had already made the decision that I would perform unprotected mouth to mouth on a stranger (since I’m just a civilian and don’t carry a guard), but was curious about how this decision my differ in cases of those experiencing OD or in cases when the victim, while maybe not ODing, is known to be living with addictions. Just also wondering if how the calculation might be different for an EMT or other medical/emergency professional when you mentioned the projectile vomit issue.

                Also, not for you, but to others, can we not call drug users or those living with addictions “addicts”? It’s pretty derogatory and dehumanizing.

                1. EMT Here*

                  Good on you for making that choice. I respect either one. The way I look at it, its my job to keep myself safe so I can help others, so I always take proper safety precautions when possible.
                  One thing I learned fairly early on is that you can’t assume anyone is ‘safe’. You’d be astonished the number of lovely elderly wives who have Hep B. And- the nice old man may not be clean now, but have lived through a past addiction.
                  As an EMT, assuming anyone is ‘low risk’ is a trap we can’t afford to fall into. But on the flip side you can never be too careful with someone from a known risk group.
                  I’m not saying its right, but in cases of a low-risk OD, past practice was to wait to administer Narcan until we were in the ED because its just a really horrible thing to be in the back of a rocking ambulance with potentially contaminated vomit sloshing over your shoes and someone covered in vomit fighting you to get out.

              3. D'Arcy*

                I’ve carried a pocket mask since I was 14 and the firefighter who taught my first aid merit badge gave me one.

            2. Dust Bunny*

              It’s also an aspiration and choking risk to the person who vomits, especially if they are not fully lucid or physically in control of themselves.

              1. Anastasia von Beaverhausen*

                Yes, this is what I was taught last time I recertified.

                It’s more effective if you have two people – one to maintain the head tilt and one to do the compressions.

          7. Rae*

            Almost every EMT I know has an Narcan horror story. They say it’s like no other drug. Their injuries range, like you explain, from fluid contact to a broken wrist and broken foot (different incidents) from angry drug users. Bystanders have also had injuries. It’s not “harmless”.

            Just like I trust them and don’t have a trampoline in my yard, I will never

            1. EMT Here*

              I’ve just never had a heart attack victim wake up and immediately react with physical violence toward me. Its not the same situation at all.

        3. Temperance*

          From what I’ve read about it, it is safe and easy for non-medical professionals to use, but there is some risk to the person administering it. Often when someone comes out of an overdose and is brought right into withdrawal, they’ll take a swing or worse at the person treating them.

          1. A Different EMT*

            Hi, Temperance. I just wanted to repeat something I said in another comment above, because it’s my biggest pet peeve and I’m on a one-woman mission to correct this misconception whenever I see it:

            Opioid overdoses kill by making the patient stop breathing. When you administer narcan, you restart their breathing, but the patient is hypoxic. Lack of oxygen makes people disoriented, agitated, and violent. The patient who’s just woken up from an overdose is not yet thinking clearly enough to process “I was high -> now I am in withdrawal -> these people must have given me narcan and ruined my high,” (although that may come later). They are disoriented and hypoxic, and surrounded by strangers. That’s why they often struggle.

            This doesn’t change the fact that there is a potential that the patient will flail and struggle if they are given enough narcan to completely wake them up, so there is still some risk to the person administering it, as you said. I’m just trying to fight against the (very common) misconception that the initial agitation of narcan patients is due to them being angry that “you ruined their high.”

            1. Temperance*

              That’s not what I said, though. I didn’t say anything about ruining someone’s “high”, but about them being physically in withdrawal and attacking.

        4. Bibliotechie*

          Denver CO’s public library led the trend in hiring social workers to work in the library as social workers, I believe, and they are also among the first to get trained to use narcan, at least at the downtown central branch. There was and is a great need to deal with people who are overdosing, and the library took a sensible, compassionate approach. They are just keeping up with the times. I will say that as word has spread among the drug using population more people are using in or near the library, because it is a safe place to accidentally o.d. The library has also hired extra security as that was needed. There is a lot of debate here in Denver about these services, but as a librarian (law library though, not public) I commend them for seeing who their public is and changing their services to provide for them.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            For as long as I’ve been an adult, it’s been common for homeless and vagrant types to hang around the library. It’s comfortable, out of the weather, and as long as they don’t behave badly they can stay.

            1. Bibliotechie*

              Sure, that’s every library or bus station that doesn’t kick them out. But since the staff became trained in administering narcan drug users hang out much more frequently, with the attending rise in issues of having them hang out, because it is a safe place to overdose. The library staff feel it’s their job to serve the public, but a lot of people want to make the library less attractive to drug users.

              1. Temperance*

                Although, arguably, by making the library a place where you can OD safely, isn’t that depriving the non-using public of library use? If I was a parent, I wouldn’t take my child to a library if it was full of addicts nodding out and other vagrants. As an adult woman, I wouldn’t feel comfortable entering that environment.

                1. TardyTardis*

                  It depends on what rules are in place and how they are enforced. The rules we had in our library are 1) don’t sit in the children’s or YA section, 2) if you smell, go to the restroom and use the soap there and b) don’t bug other people. Other than that, they are just as free to fall asleep over the Wall Street Journal as everybody else (and nobody is supposed to run porn on the library computers, we have a reference librarian who is pretty fierce on that).

          2. Warren*

            When I used to go to a library in the city there were always a lot of homeless people there but they mostly all spent their time reading. If they were going there to do drugs that would have made me uncomfortable and I would have stopped going.

            I know people want to be compassionate and nonjudgemental but I would rather public places be comfortable for the general public then that they be havens for drug users. And obviously for businesses that need paying customers this is a no-brainer. You can’t drive regular folks away by making your business a safe space for addicts. And going by the OP’s letter it seems this restaurant was really going out of its way to accomadate addicts. I doubt most people would have felt comfortable eating there or working there. I can certainly see why they decided it was time to reverse their policy.

            1. EMT Here*

              Especially since, in many cities anyway, there are charities specifically devoted to giving addicts a safe place to use drugs. Places where there are professionals actually trained to respond to emergencies. Librarians really haven’t signed up to expose themselves to physical risk and the mental tole this takes. And parents haven’t signed up to take their kids to pick out books and maybe get a free viewing of an OD or contact exposure to drugs.
              If people/towns really want to help, they can encourage more drug safe havens, by contributing to the appropriate charities, or getting one started in their neighborhood.

            2. kittycritter*

              Yes I agree with this. Places like libraries should be made comfortable for people who want to use the library for its intended purposes…..not be made comfortable for people to go there and use drugs.

              And I say this as a former addict! People now want to swing the pendulum too far the other direction and make sure that drug users are “comfortable” enough to use drugs in their space and OD in their space because they know that they’ll get help……drug users should NOT be comfortable using drugs in public like this. They’ll never stop that way. The shame and social stigma and inability to provide for myself were all big reasons that gave me the motivation to stop using. If everybody was making me feel like it was OK to keep going, maybe I would have…..

              1. Nerdy Library Clerk*

                Places don’t have Narcan to encourage drug use, they have Narcan to prevent deaths. It’s really not that easy to make sure no one uses drugs. I mean, I suppose places could have transparent restrooms, or cameras in the stalls, but there are many, many reasons not to do either of those.

                Also the people who come to libraries and OD are the same people who come to libraries to check out books and movies, use the internet, and everything else libraries are for. There’s no way to separate out the drug addicts and say “You. You’re not welcome here.” At least not until they’re caught using drugs in the library, in which case, they can be – and are – suspended.

        5. Brett*

          “It’s perfectly safe for those who are not medical professionals to use and it saves lives.”

          That’s not quite true. The Naloxone is quite safe, but the circumstances of an overdose are not so safe. There are some cases where (as a result of narcotics withdrawal, not the Naloxone itself), the person receiving the Naloxone administration will become combative, injuring the person who administered it.
          Naloxone injectors (Narcan is nasal and more expensive) carry a risk of accidental needle stick after injecting the person.

          Also, though this is not a safety issue, some states do not have a Naloxone liability shield. If the person is saved from overdose and something else immediately happens to them, the person administering the Naloxone, or a bystander affected in some way (e.g. the overdose victim immediately drives away and hits someone), the person administering the Naloxone can end up on the wrong end of a civil suit. Or potentially their employer if the Naloxone was administered in the workplace. This sort of risk is why most states have a liability shield.
          (Note: EMS and police in nearly all states have a separate public duty liability shield that protects them and their employer, but this same liability is why some police departments will not carry Naloxone, particularly if they cannot afford Narcan sprays over Naloxone injectors.)

        6. AsItIs*

          How can the person know whether the person unconscious in front of them is that way because of opioids? Is Narcan benign to non-opioid addicts?

        7. Wintermute*

          Yes and no. Ask any paramedic, people who get narcan’d often come up swinging when they snap back to reality in full withdrawal. I think an employer has a reasonable safety interest in wanting to avoid turning an overdose into a violent incident with employee injuries.

          Hell, the addict themselves could even sue for the fact you put them in precipitated withdrawal. They wouldn’t WIN, but the company would still have to show up in court and defend itself, and since businesses can’t appear pro se but the addict can, that means having to hire a lawyer and that’s an expense not all businesses can afford.

          It’s messed up, but it’s true, that it does create a few massive liabilities that could shutter the business.

      3. Mike C.*

        1. The restaurant doesn’t have liability because in communities where blanket prescriptions exist instruction is required before you can carry it and “Good Samaritan” laws exist.

        2. Emergency response plans only work when they are simple to follow and don’t require people to make complicated, time-intensive or moral judgements before acting. “Stop, drop and roll”. “Crawl out of a building if it’s full of smoke”, “Call 911 when you see a medical emergency”. If you’re wondering about your job before calling for help, you’re going to lose precious time.

        The fact that folks generally don’t understand this really, really bothers me. This is the sort of thing that is drilled into the heads of small children, let alone any workplace with a basic safety program. Why wasn’t this in the answer, isn’t safety the most important concern of a manager?

        When you have a bad safety culture like this, people get hurt and it takes a great deal of effort to change this sort of culture.

        3. I didn’t say anything about barring drug users, so ok I guess?

        1. JamieS*

          1. There are limits to Good Samaritan laws so that’s not really a standard for saying a business can never be liable. Regardless that’s irrelevant because not being liable doesn’t mean a company can’t be worried about liability and make policies that focus on self protection.

          2. There’s no moral judgment to make and it’s not complicated. How are you thinking they’d call the cops? OP would still call 911 and report a drug overdose. The dispatcher then dispatches the appropriate people (cops and ambulance).

          3. I never said you said anything about barring drug users. My point was it’s irrelevant that these particular customers are part of a work place because the company doesn’t want them as customers.

          1. Mike C.*

            You completely ignored the massive bit I wrote about crafting effective safety policies and frankly that was the whole point of my response.

            Let me state this again – when you needlessly complicate a safety procedure – here, threatening the job of an employee if they call under certain circumstances – you seriously erode the effectiveness of that safety procedure.

            When it comes to safety, it has to be simple and bulletproof. You aren’t dealing with people who can google things or ask permission, they have adrenaline pumping through their veins and someone is in front of them possibly dying and they need to act right now. You can’t have them wondering or doubting if they should call, or trying to figure out if they’re really overdosing or if they can go a few weeks before another paycheck or anything like that.

            You need them to call now.

            1. JamieS*

              That bit was irrelevant because they aren’t needlessly crafting complicated safety policies.

            2. Snark*

              I don’t understand how “call 911 every time” is complicating things. It sounds like their approach previously was to call this outreach team and get paramedics on scene without calling 911, and it sounds like that’s what’s being prevented here.

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                Yeah, it kind of sounds like it’s un-complicating things. Don’t go to great lengths trying to keep the ODing person out of legal trouble. Just call 911.

              2. Mike C.*

                “Call 911 everytime” is the simple, appropriate approach.

                “Don’t call an ambulance in the case of an overdose” is the poorly defined, complicated approach.

                1. Snark*

                  I’m not sure whether that was the wording the employer used or how the employee characterized it, but I think the second.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I agree with Snark here. I don’t think most people would even know how to call am ambulance other than calling 911. It seems to me that the advice boils down to “call 911, don’t call the street team.” And that’s not an outrage.

            3. Lynn Whitehat*

              My grandfather collapsed from a heart attack when we were at a restaurant. I went to the front to ask to use their phone to call 911 (this was before cell phones were commonly available.) The hostess told me the phone was for staff only (!), but she could call 911 for me (!), and I said OK (!) And it was slower than doing it myself, because she had to repeat everything the dispatcher and I said.

              He passed away that evening. It was his 4th heart attack and I think it was just his time; I don’t believe the extra minute or two of the 911 call being slow made the difference. But it really illustrated for me how stupid people can be in an emergency. In hindsight, I should have just taken the phone and made the call. The hostess probably realized later that she shouldn’t have refused to let me use the phone. But we were both stupidly following the rules.

              1. Warren*

                The dispatcher should have asked to talk to you. He must have noticed the delay in the responses.

              2. CorruptedbyCoffee*

                This is why, at my work, we will not call 911 for you if we are not the person involved. We will hand the phone to you, because the 911 operator will always want to speak to whoever witnesses the issue or has first hand knowledge of what’s happening.

          2. Susana*

            Honestly – it didn’t sound to me like they were being asked to call the police for an OD (it’s not illegal to overdose – it’s illegal to be in possession of illegal drugs. And in the case of opioid abuse, it could be abuse of drugs acquired legally). It sounds more like they’re being asked to call the police for someone being disruptive or whatever – probably because they are on drugs.
            I’m sympathetic to the business not wanting people thee who are high or otherwise very intoxicated (don’t most places refuse to serve you anyway for that?). But this does seem to cross a line to *not* responding to a medical situation appropriately.
            At any rate – I don’t care how much OP needs the job. It just sounds like an awful place to work all the way around.

            1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

              I agree. There is a lot of debate on what will happen if there is an overdose, but I think the point the owners want to make is that they don’t want *anyone* to be high on the premises at all. They don’t want anyone to be high in the bathrooms, they don’t want anyone high to be served. If someone is high, they will not be served, and if they don’t leave call the cops. If no one is high, then no one can overdose. I realize you cannot always tell if someone is high, but I think this is were the policy is coming from.

              I also wonder if the owners think the waitstaff is not cracking down on this hard enough? That maybe the waitstaff was letting people stay when they thought they were close to an overdose because they felt they could help if it happened? And that is wonderful and compassionate, but not great for business. I am just astonished that this happens often enough to be routine, this is not a problem most restaurants have.

        2. Green*

          As a lawyer, I’ll just say that one should beware of commenters giving conclusive legal advice on the internets.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            That’s true, but Mike is right that under most Good Samaritan laws, you generally cannot be held liable for administering Narcan in most states that are hit hard by the opioid epidemic, nor can you be held liable for calling for an ambulance.

            The details always make the difference in whether a person is liable, but it’s helpful for folks to know that, in general, it is ok to call 911 for someone experiencing an overdose.

            1. AKchic*

              In my city, if an address has had more than a certain number of emergency service calls in a specific timeframe without an approved reason, the address owner gets fined for tying up community resources.

              Example 1: multiple ambulance calls to a residential home because a little old lady keeps falling will get looked at. It generally won’t get fined because it’s a little old lady calling the appropriate services (and generally social services are working with the family to get her appropriate care).
              Example 2: multiple suspicious fires break out over a period of time at an apartment complex and firefighters are called at least once a week for many months. The building owner gets fined because the owner has not taken any steps to find out who is setting the fires (no security cameras installed, for example).
              Example 3: Multiple police calls to a rental home for drug activity, loud parties, and fighting. Neighbors have complained to the property owner, but the owner doesn’t seem to care because “they pay their rent on time”. Owner starts caring once owner starts getting fined for multiple police calls, then realizes they have a meth lab in the basement (yeah… this happens a lot).

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                I want to clarify, though, that that’s not “liability” as it’s being discussed on the thread.

                There’s a handful of cities in the OC that have adopted policies like the one in your city. Speaking personally, I understand the rationale but think it’s bad policy. It’s particularly harmful when it’s directed towards an address that is not responsible for criminal activity, nuisance or negligence (which exists in all the examples you provided), or when it penalizes a victim of domestic violence (which I’ve seen happen). I would be curious if citations are given to the address owner if there’s a genuine concentration of emergencies that are not the owner’s fault, or if the recipient of the services (i.e., the person OD’ing) would be charged.

              2. Sacred Ground*

                Example 4: A woman is regularly beaten by her abusive spouse. Or her obsessed ex or a stalker keeps trespassing and harassing her. The police say they can do nothing to stop the guy, but they still respond if she or a neighbor calls to complain about the abuse/harasser. If she or the neighbors call the police once too often and the landlord gets fined then she gets evicted. So she doesn’t call them. She either gets herself out of the situation without any help from the police or her neighbors or she gets evicted so the landlord doesn’t have to pay that fine.

                Or she is killed, but hey, at least the police didn’t waste public resources trying to help a citizen crime victim.

        3. Wintermute*

          1) the restaurant absolutely does have a liability if they narcan someone who becomes violent (this is common) and injures the persona administering, another employee, or an innocent bystander.

          Secondly, they could still be sued, the suit wouldn’t succeed but it would still be ruinously expensive.

          2) Calling the police is a reasonable response to an emergency, call 911, let the dispatcher decide who to call. If you call in a drug OD they will send police, who carry narcan and equipment to handle a combative person, or an ambulance with experienced personnel. Trying to work around police involvement is what creates the danger, not a blanket “call 911, report a non-responsive casualty, suspected due to drug OD”

      4. Jennifer Thneed*

        Narcan isn’t like that — there are lots of libraries that keep it for staff to administer as needed – BUT I agree that this owner isn’t thinking logically about this sort of thing.

    3. Marzipan*

      I certainly raised my eyebrows somewhat at the idea of not being permitted to call an ambulance – surely that would create massive liability issues for the restaurant? – and I think that’s the area I would focus on trying to push back. There’s generally no requirement on individuals or businesses to help with drug outreach, or carry specialist medications in case of need (although I agree these are positive things in the world), but when a person has collapsed in front of you there’s, at minimum, a social expectation that you will summon help (and, in many places in the world, ignoring this could lead to criminal or civil liabilities).

      Also, on a very practical level, clearly the emergency dispatchers are just going to send an ambulance anyway? I mean, I know I’m in the UK but I can’t imagine things are wildly different in the US, and I guarantee if I called 999 and asked them to send the police because someone had collapsed at my workplace from a drug overdose, they would advise an ambulance was needed and send one whether I liked it or not.

      The rest, while it’s much harsher than the previous practices, I can understand. But that’s where I’d push back.

      1. JamieS*

        If calling the police leads to an ambulance being called can that really be considered barring an employee from calling an ambulance? I can see if the policy stated the employee must argue with the dispatcher if they indicate they’re sending an ambulance and try their hardest to dissuade the dispatcher from doing so but that’s clearly preposterous so very unlikely to be what OP and coworkers are expected to do.

        1. Marzipan*

          The OP and her co-workers are already being expected to take the clearly preposterous step of not calling an ambulance when someone collapses on the premises. It’s therefore very unclear to me how the owner and manager will react to the arrival of said ambulance, because we’re already out of the realms of reasonableness. If they’re fine with ambulances coming, it shouldn’t matter if the staff just directly call them. I can’t see any reason why they’d be happy for one to be sent just as long as the staff didn’t specifically ask for it. If they invented this rule, they presumably had something in mind (however unreasonable). So, to me, the question is, what are the consequences for the staff on duty in a scenario where an ambulance attends (irrespective of who called it and who they started out by calling)?

          1. Myrin*

            That’s what I’ve been thinking. It seems to me like the new management recognised a problem – people doing drugs in the restaurant’s bathroom or overdosing on the premises – and (understandably) want to put a stop to it, but overshot and/or didn’t think this through until the very end (someone lying about unconsciously in the parking lot isn’t going to deter potential customers any less than someone injecting heroin in the parking lot) and additionally take a stance against being sympathetic towards people who take drugs (refusing to allow any help except for calling the police).

            Realistically, it’s very likely for an ambulance to arrive because of a drug-related incident, whether that be because OP or her coworkers called it, whether another patron called it, or whether anyone called the police and they sent it. So I wonder if, since the OP wrote in, anything has actually happened in this regard and how management reacted in a real-life scenario (as opposed to whatever they had in mind when they made those policies) – it’s always easy to build up some idea(l) in your head but when the situation actually happens, everything turns out to work completely differently and you have to backtrack on previous assumptions and convictions.

        2. doreen*

          Since the OP says “We used to call an ambulance and a street outreach program that had experience with addiction. “, I’m wondering if in the past they called a private/volunteer ambulance, rather than 911 or the equivalent. It’s not uncommon for the police to be dispatched to at least some calls made to 911 for medical help, but they wouldn’t respond to calls made to a non-emergency number.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Yeah, if this policy is basically “You need to call 911 instead of private ambulance service” then I fail to see how that’s a problem.

          2. Natalie*

            I’m not sure there is any way for a US person to call an ambulance besides 911? Private services that work for clinics and such don’t take calls from the public.

            1. Natalie*

              I guess it looks like maybe you can schedule a non emergency ambulance transport. But I rather doubt anyone’s scheduling their overdoses.

              1. doreen*

                Depend on where you live. Where I live, ( in the US) there are are volunteer ambulances that don’t respond through the 911 system. You call them on their regular phone number, but they may arrive sooner than a 911 ambulance because the volunteers cover a much smaller area. (For example, they may respond only to calls within 2 miles of their base.)

              2. Lynca*

                Because they’re also involving an outreach program I suspect that the ambulance agreement may be with them. Or with a hospital partnered with them. That may explain a prompt response by the company for a non-emergency call from outside 911.

            2. Holly*

              There are volunteer ambulance services that serve some areas and you’d have to know the number in advance, I’m pretty sure.

            3. Brett*

              Depends on where you live. In my area, there are several cities that _only_ have private ambulance services. If you call 911 and are dispatched by police, they will not enter a property until police arrive.

              If people do not want the police to come, they have to call the ambulance service emergency number directly and request an emergency room direct admission.

      2. Mark132*

        I agree with you, that is the only part I find objectionable and illogical (the ambulance thing). The US is pretty much the same as the UK in this regard.

      3. Lynca*

        I think what was likely going on was that they were directly calling an ambulance service and the outreach program instead of emergency services which would involve the police. Just involving an ambulance service would be a transport, thus not going to involve the police. I’m guessing the new policy is to just call 911 and not just the ambulance service directly.

        Which I can understand the new owners point with that. In my area you’d get EMTs faster through 911. Ambulances are never the quickest response. The Fire Department is literally always the first responder for medical emergencies here.

        1. a1*

          This is how I took it, too. If they now call 911 and an ambulance is also dispatched, that would be fine, but circumventing the law and emergency services is not.

    4. Mookie*

      +1
      This employer is irresponsible and dangerous and as a patron, I’d want to know about these policies from any employee able to share them.

      1. Wintermute*

        I feel the opposite. I’m NOT going to a place that caters to drug users. A place like this? they’re more likely to get my business.

        Still a good reason to let people know though, for good or ill let them make their own decisions.

    5. Could be Anyone*

      Narcan is not a prescription medication, and it’s only purpose is to reverse the effects of opiates. I’m not seeing a reason any employee could state a personal need to carry it. I do see a legitimate business need to not be known as a safe haven for opiate use.

    6. Chaordic One*

      This just seems so strange to me, that an employer who serves the public would ban something that could save someone’s life. I’m aware of hotels and restaurants that have Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) to restart the hearts of people who have heart attacks and this doesn’t seem very different.

      I wonder if you could have someone who is not employed by the restaurant say something to the press. Sometimes a bit of bad publicity might result in policy changes.

  3. Bilateralrope*

    For #1: My understanding is that overdoses require urgent medical care. Meaning you’re not allowed to call an ambulance for someone in need of urgent medical care. Nor are you allowed to carry the tools needed to provide potentially life-saving first aid. How is that legal ?

    I’d suggest checking your health and safety laws. See what they say.

    1. MK*

      My guess is that so far the employees made sure that the police wouldn’t come; maybe they called the hospital directly or didn’t tell 911 that it was an overdose so that they would only send an ambulance.

      1. JamieS*

        That’s my read as well. The prior policy sounds like it was more focused on getting the overdosers treatment and the new policy is basically not being concerned about protecting them from criminal liability.

      2. Ender*

        Yeah that’s what it seems like. In the past they called drug outreach and an ambulance but specifically chose not to call the police.

        I’m getting the impression from the letter that there were a LOT of addicts hanging around the restaurant in the past. It’s no surprise it ended up being sold. No non-addict wants to spend time eating food with addicts hanging around. I certainly wouldn’t.

        1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

          I had the same impression. It sounds like the restaurant used to have addicts constantly shooting up in the bathrooms, nodding out, high in public, and ODing in the restaurant and in the parking lot. It’s not normal for a restaurant to have the whole wait staff carrying narcan in their apron pockets or to have an intervention program on speed dial. It’s also not hard to imagine that this circus and the financial fallout led to the original owner selling (or having to sell) the restaurant.

          The new owners are handling this wrong in a few ways. (Mike C is absolutely right that you never make people hesitant about calling 911.) But I can see why they are, in general, trying to make sure that their business loses its reputation as a good place to get high. You will very, very quickly have no business at all if that becomes the case. There are plenty of organizations that try to provide people with clean needles, housing, nonjudgmental care, access to narcan, etc. – but they are charities. Paying customers don’t go there to hang out and eat a burger.

      3. Lynca*

        They probably directly called an ambulance service for assistance and didn’t go through 911. That would have kept the police from being involved because it was just a transport.

        1. MissGirl*

          Thanks for the clarification. I was wondering how one would differentiate between calling the cops versus an ambulance because I would simply call 911.

      4. McWhadden*

        It is pretty much impossible to get an ambulance there ASAP without calling 911.

        In another life I was a secretary at a hospital. We had to schedule ambulances directly all of the time sometimes quickly. It takes forever just to get through to a dispatcher.

        No way are they not calling 911.

        1. Rae*

          Not true. Many times there are overdose lines. Our community publishes them. Many wealthier families, those who have committed other crimes or those here unofficially with troubled family members use these so there IS no police record.

    2. Not a Blossom*

      Yeah, I can’t get over “not allowed to call an ambulance.” Are they supposed to call the police directly? That is really not OK. I could maybe see “call 9-1-1 only and report it as a possible overdose (and that is crucial, because there are other health issues that mimic overdosing) rather than the outreach program” so that both an ambulance and the police are dispatched, but saying you can’t call for emergency help would frankly be my hill to die on (no pun intended).

      1. Snark*

        My feeling is that the OP was using imprecise language that communicated how they were feeling more than the actual directive.

      2. Allison*

        I’m also not sure it’s the best way to deter addicts from shooting up in the bathroom. The blue light and lack of access to non-customers really should be enough, I doubt addicts choose their spots based on who’s gonna call an ambulance for them.

        I’m also not sure the police would be thrilled to be called to a scene where someone’s having a medical emergency, no one’s rendering aid, and no medical professionals are on the way,

        1. Anon today*

          It sounds like previously the employees were specifically trying not to involve the police, which actually could cause addicts to choose that spot.

    3. PersephoneUnderground*

      Yeah- I’d like to see more advice on how to push back in this situation specifically. *Telling them they can’t administer narcan is equivalent to telling them they can’t perform CPR* if a customer is having a heart attack. It is 100% immoral and a serious problem. They are telling them to let people actually die. Alison’s usual advice to push back or decide to leave, while practical and correct, just feels incomplete today. (aside- and yes, I assume they’re certified in both cases, not that it matters if there’s no one else available, and not that the employer has given any indication that’s their concern- from what is in the letter, people who OD dying is a feature not a bug of the system to them since they’re a “drain” on society).

      1. Colette*

        I mean, push back or leave are the only 2 options the OP has. What else would you suggest she do? (I guess she could just openly defy management, but that’s going to end up with her leaving anyway.)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Right, I don’t think there are other options, as much as it might be nice to have them. I suppose there’s a third option about going to the media (just about the narcan, not about the rest of this, since the rest is actually pretty reasonable).

      2. MK*

        *Telling them they can’t administer narcan is equivalent to telling them they can’t perform CPR*

        It’s really not equivalent; the ability to perform CPR is not a medical drug that the employees are carrying around with them. They are saying they don’t want narcan on their premises. And it’s one thing to have an employee who is able, should the rare occasion of a heart attack arise, to administer help and another to have a staff of people actively preparing for accommodating addicts by carrying medications for when they overdose, avoiding police involvement, partnering with an outreach group, heck, the OP even protests a change that would make it more difficult for people to shoot up in the restrooms.

        While on principle I sympathise with the OP more than the employer, I am guessing the more draconian rules are due to the fact that the restaurant has till now been very accomodating to addicts, which got around, which resulted in larger numbers of them going there, which got to be a problem for the business.

        1. PersephoneUnderground*

          I agree with all the other rules- just call 911, lock the restrooms etc.- but yes, it really is the same. Just because a tool is needed here (the medicine) doesn’t make it somehow different to ban it. It’s a more strained example but many people know how to use an AED for heart attacks. Specifically banning them from keeping one with them and using it (say if you had an elderly clientele who had needed it before) would be the same as this, and obviously unreasonable. You can’t say “well, they have a right to not want an AED on their premises”.

        2. Snark*

          There are significant risks to the administrator – addicts are often violent and disoriented when they come out of the OD, and they’d probably like to avoid that potential liability and worker’s comp claim. I’m frankly not convinced that school-age restaurant employees need to be or should be the first line of lifesaving aid.

          1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

            On the one hand, it is absolutely fair for the owners to try to prevent situation in their restaurant that could lead to their employees getting vomited on, punched or scratched. My husband’s job often puts him in danger of getting vomited on, punched or scratched and we often joke that if any of those things happened to me at my work it would be a huge thing and there would be hell to pay.

            On the other hand most lifeguards are teenagers and they are expected to be the first line of lifesaving aid and no one blinks an eye. But they are trained and their employer expects those things to happen.

            1. But you don't have an accent...*

              Yes, thank you! I was a lifeguard throughout high school and college. I had to be life guard certified, first aid certified, CPR certified, and AED certified. I HIGHLY doubt that the restaurant is requiring that their servers get any of the above certifications. Many of these need to be re-certified on an annual basis. (I had a fifth certification for open water guarding, but I worked at a pool so it wasn’t useful for me).

              It’s easy to say “there’s no consequences”, but there are. Even if the individual person is protected under Good Samaritan laws, I don’t think those extend to the business (or it’s state by stat) – which the owner can and should be thinking about.

              1. IceTea4Meee*

                Great points. As a former lifeguard and swim coach yes there is extensive training and practice. In my current field there is also extensive annual safety training including CPR, AED and first aid. One of the stipulations my employer has is that we are not to use an epi pen on someone who it is not prescribed to. Theres no change in dosage or anything but it’s a liability issue for the employer so they can say in our training we specifically say don’t do this. They do it because even if the good samaritan law applies it does not protect you from being sued and being involved in a lengthy legal dispute. I can see a similar CYA (cover your …) happening here.

          2. EMT Here*

            This. There are so, so many serious risks involved in administering Narcan. Risks that can hurt the OD’ed person worse than if they’d just waited, because the public isn’t trained to handle everything that comes after. And risks to the person administering it- being exposed to bodily fluids/drug residue/needles, and getting sucker punched in the face or scratched when the person comes to.
            If someone has stopped breathing from overdose, anything the LW does can only improve the situation (including administering Narcan). But usually there’s an in-between phase where they’re non-responsive but not in respiratory distress, and in that case having a member of the public administer Narcan is probably a bigger risk than its worth.
            These risks are the same reason the public is now generally taught hands-only CPR. The risk to them from performing rescue breathing (possibly incorrectly) is usually not worth any potential benefits.

            1. Leslie knope*

              What is going on in this thread? How are you an EMT and spreading misinformation and stigmatizing narcan use, which can literally save lives?

              1. Peter the Bubblehead*

                And who are you to question an EMT who is certified and qualified to do the job of saving lives? Have you undergone the years of training an EMT requires? The annual re-certification? The schooling to understand the various drugs and both their beneficial effects and side-effects they can have? Do you have any knowledge of what drugs can be used in conjunction and which ones would be a death sentence if inadvertently mixed?

                1. EMT Here*

                  I appreciate what you’ve said, but wanted to make sure to let you now most EMTs don’t have such advanced training. We only learn to perform ‘immediate’ lifesaving techniques and what to be aware of within the limited scope of medicines we are equipped to administer. If we have drug interaction questions, we call the hospital and ask to speak to a doctor.
                  Most of our knowledge regarding things like Narcan side effects come from personal experience, and its entirely possible I have been on the receiving end of an unreasonably high percentage of the rare side effects.

              2. Rae*

                I know many EMTs. One is a former EMT. He had a post-narcan drug user crush his foot struggling and angry while he protected that man’s 6yo daughter. Narcan IS a wonder drug, but it isn’t always “safe” for everyone involved in an OD incident.

              3. MusicWithRocksInIt*

                Unlike most of us on the thread, the EMT has actually administrated Narcan, and has actually witnessed the results of it. If those results can be violent then that is very important information that should be included in this discussion. If there is a chance you will be hurt by doing something it is more than fair to be warned ahead of time.

              4. EMT Here*

                I genuinely don’t feel that educating people about the potential risks of personal harm from attempting to help someone who is experiencing an overdose is ‘stigmatizing’ or ‘spreading misinformation’. I never even said we should stop giving out Narcan to people who are informed of the risk and choose to take it on anyway. Desperate times call for desperate measures. But administering Narcan is just not equivalent to performing CPR. Its way more complicated and carries way, way more risk for everyone involved.

      3. PersephoneUnderground*

        Colette- yeah, I know- I just wish there were a bit more about how best to push back in such a charged situation without the bosses getting defensive.

        1. Colette*

          I think you’re asking for something you can’t get, though. The boss might get defensive, or she might just disagree, or she might be tired of having the same conversation every 10 minutes. There is no magic way to push back without consequences.

          1. PersephoneUnderground*

            Probably- it’s a tough situation all around, so it’s tempting to look for some sort of magic words to get the bosses to listen, you know?

            I’ll take a stab at it, since sometimes the right framing can help good communication a bit even if it’s not magic (also so it doesn’t appear I’m just criticizing Alison’s answer, totally not how I meant my comment originally):

            I’d probably advise when approaching as a group to start with all the things you can agree with on the policy, then go to the one or two things you would like changed. If you start with “We agree that people shooting up in the bathrooms was a problem, and totally support your decision to lock the restrooms and put in blue lights to prevent that, and understand wanting to simply call 911 by-the-book to protect the business.” or whatever you can muster, it might make the following part that you don’t agree with come across less confrontational and lessen the chance of a knee-jerk “no”. Maybe emphasize the impact to the business if someone did die waiting for care there in a situation where the preventive measures hadn’t worked- it would be bad press just because people are creeped out by going somewhere where someone died recently, and also the business wouldn’t want media scrutiny finding fault with their way of handling it, so best to do everything possible to prevent that situation in the first place including administering narcan if possible- could even say you’d ask the dispatcher if you should use it on the 911 call first to ensure it’s the right thing to do, similar to them sometimes instructing people in using CPR over the phone. I’ve had some success in business-speak with emphasizing shared goals and what we do agree on when disagreeing with something management has set up- if possible it’s great to take a “we agree on the goal, we just disagree on the method and think there’s a good reason to change it” stance- use “we” as much as possible etc.

            I know this is yesterday’s thread, but wanted to add this now that I’ve let it rest because I think it might be a useful additional thought- obviously the topic is emotional as shown in the somewhat heated comments here, so it makes it harder to think clearly about solutions when first reacting to the question.

      4. Collarbone High*

        Fourth estate, reporting for duty.

        As a journalist, I generally disagree when people advise LWs here to call the media – “I’m being treated unfairly at work” isn’t the kind of thing reporters write about.

        Local restaurant bans employees from carrying Narcan and calling ambulances for ODs? That *is* the kind of thing reporters write about. This taps in to the ongoing discussion over how society should respond to the opioid epidemic, which many communities are struggling with, and community pushback could effect change.

      5. SavannahMiranda*

        It actually, brutally, makes complete sense to require the employees NOT to be in the habit of carrying narcan and being ready to administer it.

        Narcan is nasal spray or intramuscular injection. If they’ve been helping by keeping the injection narcan at hand, that raises a host of medical liability issues, whether we like it or not.

        Especially if, as other commenters have noted, the restaurant has become known as a place to use, nod out, or potentially OD. Or a place to send others to, because “all the employees there have narcan on them.”

        The minute employees *as employees and therefore as representatives of the business* become known for being narcan providers *because they are an employee at this place,* it raises massive medical liability issues.

        That makes it different than administering CPR on occasion. Presumably no one from the neighborhood is choosing to go to this restaurant and hang out there just in case they have a heart attack, because the employees are known as particularly handy with CPR. That would be preposterous, right. But choosing to hang out there because it sounds like the employees are known and understood to keep narcan at hand, is a problem.

        The restaurant company is not a medical provider. They simply cannot, for the sake of the owners and all the employees who work there, let the staff carry around narcan widely and represent the company that way as a whole.

        If one person had narcan on them as a one-off matter, that wouldn’t be representing the company as a whole, in a social-services type practice that appears to have become word of mouth in the community.

        I imagine the staff having narcan started out that way – one or two employees who knew what was up made a habit of having it on them. When an influential percentage of employees start following suit, *turning it into a kind of defacto business policy of the restaurant itself,* they are risking their livelihood and the future of the entire workplace.

        I sympathize with OP so hard. But no, as an employee of this restaurant, they cannot be participating in underground, unspoken but known policies for company employees to be carrying narcan.

        When the server apron comes off, they’re not an employee. When they’re not representing the company (in a legal sense) on the clock, they’re not in a position to jeopardize the company. But polo shirt, or uniform, or apron on, and clocked in, their legal rights are intertwined with the company’s legal presence in a deeply entangling way that jeopardizes everyone.

        I’m sorry. It’s stupid. It sucks. American law sucks. Legal liability sucks City, state, and federal regulation and health codes suck. HIPPAA sucks. Medical practice standards suck.

        But this restaurant is not a clinic, not a medical facility, and not a healthcare provider. The employees cannot be providing underground healthcare to the public, period.

        1. SavannahMiranda*

          And I meant to say, whether it’s the intramuscular or nasal narcan, the issue is the same. It’s not the case that only having the nasal kind would make creating an unspoken company policy OK. It doesn’t change the basic problem.

          Same thing applies to only calling ambulances and not the police (although how you do that is still not clear, but it must be possible in the community, and good for the community).

          By creating what became a defacto company policy, even though it comes from the right place and from the best part of what makes the employees human, the staff creates a visibility and an expectation that a company in the business of slinging burgers, not healthcare, simply cannot be held to.

    4. Lynn Whitehat*

      In Texas, refusing to call an ambulance for someone who obviously needs one is “failure to render aid”. It is a misdemeanor punishable by 6 months in prison.

  4. Knitting Cat Lady*

    The not calling ambulance thing could be a massive liability for your employer.

    I doubt that any of your colleagues are MDs so how are you supposed to differentiate between a drug overdose and something else. Like a stroke, blood sugar excursion with diabetics, etc.

    Where I live not calling an ambulance when you have the ability to do so will get you in legal trouble.

    1. Manders*

      Yes, I’m confused by the not calling an ambulance rule. Where I live, there isn’t a separate number that will only get you the police. If someone’s overdosing they’ll send an ambulance (and police usually won’t take someone to jail if they suspect they’ve recently consumed heroin–it’s a huge liability for them too).

      I have some sympathy for businesses that use the blue lights, it’s understandable that they don’t want people shooting up in their bathrooms if they can help it. But some of these rules are just odd, and unless OP’s in a very different system to what I’m used to, I’m not sure it’s even possible to follow the no ambulances rule.

      1. JR*

        I was wondering the same. Are they telling OP to call the non-emergency police line instead of calling 911? That seems incredibly inappropriate – it’s an emergency and should of course be treated as such. Let the dispatcher assess what kind of professional to send, that’s their job, not the restaurant’s.

        1. anonymouse*

          I’m a librarian.

          I have called 911 and the police non-emergency line a handful of times. One time, a young woman ran into the library after being assaulted and mugged — she had been tazed and her stuff stolen. When I called police non-emergency (because she was currently safe and not in physical distress), they ended up sending police officers AND an ambulance. Once they heard “tazed”, they determined an ambulance was necessary.

          The restaurant management doesn’t know what they’re talking about. When you call 911 or police non-emergency, and you do not get to choose from a menu of what responders you want to appear.

          1. JamieS*

            The OP only said the policy is to call the police which just means they’re not trying to prevent police involvement. They didn’t say the policy said to try to keep ambulances from also showing up. That’s something that’s been added in the comments for some reason.

            1. Mike C.*

              We used to call an ambulance and a street outreach program that had experience with addiction. Now we are only allowed to call the cops and by the new rules we must do it.

              It’s in the letter.

              1. JamieS*

                That policy just means they’re expected to call 911 and nobody else. Call cops if someone overdoses doesn’t equal attempt to ban ambulances.

                1. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

                  Exactly. I know we’re not supposed to pick apart the OP’s language, but “the cops” is not a listing in the phone directory – I think the OP is upset at the thought of addicts being taken to jail instead of treatment and is making an extreme interpretation. When you call 911, you get whatever services they think it’s appropriate to send. Including an ambulance. And usually cops.

                2. Natalie*

                  @ Alison, but the OP says they “used to call an ambulance” and are now “only allowed to call the cops”. So by your interpretation they were calling 911 before and are now being asked to do something differently?

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  It sounds to me as if previously they were doing something other than calling 911 (I don’t know what — maybe calling a private ambulance service, as others have suggested, maybe calling street outreach). If they’re now being directed to call 911, I think that’s actually fine (because that in no way means an ambulance won’t arrive).

                4. Natalie*

                  @ Alison, I don’t know, it seems odd for you to come down hard one way or another when it’s speculation either way.

                5. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  It’s definitely all speculation (hence, “my read,” etc.). But I can’t figure out what the new instructions could be that would actually prevent an ambulance from being called. If you call any kind of emergency services, they’re going to make their own determination of who to send; you can’t order them to only send police, for example.

                6. JamieS*

                  Natalie, it’s all speculation but part of the reason OP is now upset is the police are now being involved which is an extremely strong indication they weren’t before.

              2. Ender*

                Mike what Jamie is saying is correct. In the past they would call an ambulance and drug outreach which would typically mean police wouldn’t get involved (it’s unlikely the police would show up without being asked). New policy is to call police which as many many people have said means most likely an ambulance will come if needed. It really seems like the new policy is more about making sure the police ARE involved than preventing an ambulance from being dispatched when needed. I really don’t think the callig the police thing is a safety concern at all.

                Narcan is apparently life saving according to a comment above so I do think it’s wrong of the employer to prevent people from carrying it. However I disagree with your opinion that this is creating a bad safety culture or bad safety policies. Safety policies are primarily about protecting employees, and also about ensuring the business doesn’t hurt non-employees. Not administering a life saving drug doesn’t mean you’re hurting someone, it means you are not saving Them. I’m sure you don’t see a difference but there is a big legal difference there – it’s illegal to kill someone, but it’s not illegal to fail to save someone’s life. Or even to prevent someone from saving someone’s life. You and I may not personally agree with The ban on narcan, but it’s not creating “a bad safety culture”. If anything making thne place less attractive to addicts is making employees and non-addict patrons safer.

                1. Myrin*

                  For what it’s worth, there are jurisdictions where denial of assistance absolutely is indictable (my whole country’s is like that, for example). They aren’t on par, of course (I just looked it up and apparently you can get one year of jail time at most; monetary penalties are the common thing), and I don’t think simply not carrying an antidote to use on random addicts counts, but I don’t think it’s quite as easy as saying one is illegal and the other isn’t (for example, if someone died in front of OP’s restaurant because OP wanted to call help but was hindered by the owner, the owner would absolutely face charges for that).

                2. Susana*

                  Actually, it indeed *can* be illegal not to step in – depraved indifference.

                  Also, it’s not the OD’ing part that’s illegal – it’s possession of illegal drugs.

                3. Jennifer Thneed*

                  Ender, it’s not just “apparently” life-saving. It actually saves lives because it reverses the effects of the narcotic on the user’s nervous system. In other words, it prevents the heart and lungs from stopping. It doesn’t do anything else to the addiction, it just prevents a current overdose from killing the user.

                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naloxone

      2. Mark132*

        Add me to the list of the confused, and at least in one case when I called the non emergency line, the call was forwarded to 911 anyways because the other line was wasn’t manned when I called.

        1. Les G*

          This had me scratching my head too. If you call 911, there’s always the risk that the cops are getting involved. It’s a huge problem for undocumented folks and others. So if OP was previously calling an ambulance, the risk was still there. My only theory is that maybe this community intervention group dealt with it in some other way so there was no cop involvement?

          1. VioletEMT*

            They might have directly called a private ambulance service. That’s the only way I can think of where they’d be guaranteed to get an ambulance and no cops.

          2. Susana*

            I wondered, too. If someone is seen shooting up in the bathroom, yeah, I can see calling cops instead of getting medical attention. There’s a difference between calling emergency services and becoming a rehab waiting room. But if someone is having an actual attack or some kind, or collapses? Do you really think the POLICE would come before the EMTs?

          3. IceTea4Meee*

            I agree with your theory Les…. it’s the only thing that makes some sense. We had a workplace incident where a diabetics blood sugar crashed and we called 911. A police unit was dispatched along with the paramedics from the fire department. Also thinking back to when I was a kid a broke my arm in the park a cop was the first person there. I’m figuring they called an OD hotline instead of 911 previously.

      3. Foreign Octopus*

        I was wondering this myself.

        In the UK you call 999, ask for whichever service you need and get connected. You then explain the situation and the dispatcher will often send whatever is needed. For example, in the case of a fire – you get the firemen to fight the fire, police to help with crowd control (if necessary), and ambulances to help the injured. I don’t see how you can not call the ambulance even when you call the police.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Where I live, you’re more likely to get a firetruck and an ambulance. Firefighters are generally trained in basic first aid and are able to get there quicker than an ambulance.

          Either way, when you call 911 and tell them what your emergency is, they generally make the call on what services to send. I honestly wasn’t even aware you could call for an ambulance any other way.

          1. Lilo*

            It depends on the state of the person. If they are unconscious or in and out, the firetruck/EMT is more likely. If they are belligerent and high, probably just police.

          2. Natalie*

            I’m not actually sure you can. Even though people keep mentioning calling a private ambulance service, I can’t find any evidence that they take emergency calls. Everything is about scheduled transport.

              1. Natalie*

                Somebody suggested upthread that maybe the outreach group had a private ambulance contract and they sent it. Who knows, I guess.

            1. WellRed*

              Agreed. Not sure where you’d find a private ambulance doing unscheduled transports for anyone.

        2. MatKnifeNinja*

          That’s how it is where I live. You get the ambulance, a fire truck and then 2 police cars for an OD. Not everyone is over joyed you saved them. They can come out of swinging, with you getting a kick to the face. Hacked off you *wasted* their buzz.

          My brother used to work in a big box store as a department shift manager. Having someone OD in the store meant a ream of papework and screaming from above.

          So..if someone OD in the bathroom, they were dragged past the property line then 911 called.

          I said I found it hard to believe, and he told me it happened at least twice a week. It was the head store manager’s unofficial policy, and corporate knew.

          My librarian friends are tired of fishing ODs out of the restrooms. Somebody mentioned everyone carrying Narcan, and there was huge push back. The solution was to lock the doors with the patron having to get a key.

          They still called 911, and the locked restrooms cut the numbers by 90%.

          For both the store and the library, every OD meant about an hours worth of CYA paperwork. From a business perspective, that’s time and money walking.

          I don’t understand why no 911 for the OP. Does the manager just leave them in the restroom? Drag them to the alley? If anything, getting them off your property would seen like concern #1. I’d rather have the police handle a uncooperative person, than my staff. Also not every unresponsive person is an OD. My amateur doctor skills can’t tell the difference between an OD and a diabetic in crisis.

          Have 3 relatives who have major substance abuse issues. Until money gets spent on affordable treatment, we’ll be dealing with the above for a long time.

          Personally, I’d call 911 and start looking for a different job. I can’t let an animal sufferer, much less a human.

          1. Natalie*

            They can come out of swinging, with you getting a kick to the face. Hacked off you *wasted* their buzz.

            That’s not how overdoses work. Someone who was just unconscious, or semi-conscious at best, and has been rapidly shifted into consciousness doesn’t really have the capacity to form an opinion about their buzz. They come up swinging because they are confused and the adrenaline system kicks in. There’s a longer explanation upthread.

            1. Lilo*

              My friend is a nurse and says it is not uncommon to get punched after you give someone narcan. It doesn’t really matter why they do it, you still get punched.

              1. Natalie*

                Yes, I very clearly said “they come up swinging”. Why matters because there is already a lot of baseless fearmongering about opiates and addiction, including all over this thread. The myth that addicts attack when their ODs are reversed *because* they’re mad that you ruined their high perpetuates the idea that they’re all ungrateful jerks who would prefer to die.

                1. CorruptedbyCoffee*

                  As someone on the receiving end of that punch, I dont care WHY. I care that I’m getting punched.

            2. MassMatt*

              The explanation upthread was interesting, but really the reason WHY addicts are violent when waking from an OD is irrelevant. They frequently ARE, and that is a risk.

              1. Another EMT*

                I posted this above by the first explanation of why giving narcan makes people so violent, but I’ll restate it here. You do not “need” narcan for an overdose. It is not the heroin in the body that kills, it is the fact that it causes the respiratory drive to stop. Using a bag valve mask (BVM) is easy to learn and has minimal risks. In my EMS system we are told to always BVM before giving narcan, because it gets the brain oxygenated prior to waking up and lowers the risk of violence. It would be safer to simply keep the OD victim alive and breathing and wait for trained professionals to administer narcan. Narcan is not necessary to keep someone alive, breathing for them if they can’t is.

      4. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

        It sounds more to me like they’re trying to keep the employees from doing an end-run around the police so that the person who has ODed can get medical attention without being taken to jail. I feel pretty strongly that drug users who aren’t harming anyone else shouldn’t be a law enforcement issue and that people who need medical attention should absolutely get it, but nodding off in public and using someone else’s property to do your business is stepping over that no-harm line. So yeah, call the cops if it happens at work. An ambulance will come too, and the police may or may not make an arrest, but deliberately keeping the police out of it is something that I think is legitimate for your employer to forbid. Is that the rule I’d make in my own restaurant? I’m not sure, but becoming known as a “place that doesn’t call the cops” is a good way to get into legal issues yourself.

      5. A username for aam*

        See, I wouldn’t go to a business with blue lights. It would say to me that the bathroom is not a safe place to be, and I would stop going to that restaurant.

    2. OhGee*

      The no ambulance, no Narcan parts are so deeply at odds with my morals that I’d feel pretty stuck and miserable if I felt this was a job I needed to keep. What a crummy situation.

      1. Green*

        OP can keep Narcan in their car.

        Then, if an emergency situation does in fact arise, OP can make the decision about what they think is moral.

        It sounds like OP cannot afford to push back more in advance against the policies, but if an emergency arises, they’ll still be prepared to take potentially life-saving action and at that point, can tell the job to screw off.

        1. Becky*

          Are there storage instructions on Narcan? This is the middle of summer and most injectable medications I know of have storage temperature requirements which are well exceeded by being stored in a car.

          A quick google says narcan should be stored at between 15 and 25 C or 59 and 77 F. It also suggests that it would lose its impact if stored in too hot a location.

          1. Green*

            Then keep it in a cooler in the car? That’s not exactly a hurdle to a potential solution that lets OP keep her source of income and do the right thing in an emergency.

    3. TIFF*

      I don’t know any area where police would not also dispatch an ambulance for an overdose call.

      Where I am it would be absurd for a bystander to get in legal trouble for not calling an ambulance – it would only be if you obstructed others from calling an ambulance or aiding. You are not legally obligated to help but you can’t stop others from helping.

      1. PersephoneUnderground*

        Aha! And there’s the rub- the owners *are* stopping their employees from helping by forbidding narcan and its administration.

    4. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)*

      Since you mentioned diabetes, it came to my mind a case in Ultimate Airport Dubai when a service manager had to deal with someone who seemed drunk but turned out to be a type-1 diabetic who had their sugar levels dangerously high. If the restaurant refused to call an ambulance in a similar situation they could be in hot water.

    5. SavannahMiranda*

      I imagine they are more than meeting their legal liability requirements by having the employees call 911 and not whatever the alternate method is in the community for summoning only ambulances without cops.

      Calling 911 and reporting it in to central dispatch renders the decision of who and what to send the decision of central dispatch. Meaning it is not a decision made by employees. It puts the issue out of the company’s hands. Instead of employees taking it into their hands to try to mitigate criminal prosecution. Which I sympathize with on behalf of the employees as private individuals and as citizens. But as on-the clock, uniformed employees, the standards of behavior and liability are different. They are not making private decisions. They are making company decisions.

      I get it. I do. But it sounds like the restaurant owners recognize that they cannot have employees making decisions as to whether an incident of public safety is a criminal matter or not.

      It’s not in the company’s purview to make that kind of judgement call. It’s just not. And an person making the judgement call while acting in their capacity as an employee is making it on behalf of the company, whether they like it or not, or want to be or not.

  5. RG*

    OP #1 if I had to pick one thing to ask your managers to make a concession on, it would be the Narcan. I can say that reading at the place where someone died from an OD the other day definitely sounds unappealing. That would be getting in the news for the wrong reasons.

    I know others are saying that there could be liability issues with not calling an ambulance, but I feel like calling the police in that situation would lead to the dispatcher sending an ambulance anyways.

    1. Mike C.*

      It will still waste time. Seconds count, and you’re going to impact anyone who isn’t suffering from an overdose, but “looks like it” to the layperson.

      1. Lissa*

        Are there separate numbers for the police and ambulance? Where I live you’d just call 911…. this rule makes no sense in practice and sounds like it’s just there to sound “tough on drugs” or something….

          1. MK*

            Will it? Where I live the ambulance will probably get there faster if instructed to go by the police than if you call the hospital directly.

            1. Mike C.*

              What? Who’s calling a hospital directly?

              The delay comes from the fact that he employer is requiring employees to fight what’s been ingrained into them ever since they were small children, and not seek professional medical help to people who appear to have overdosed on illegal drugs.

              They taken a very clear and well understood message (call 911 in case of medical emergency) and replaced it with the above. That means employees are going to hesitate when reaching for the phone. They’re going to have to ask themselves if that person OD’ed or not, if they understood the company policy correctly or not, if there’s some way they can get help anyway (because I presume that unlike the employer, the employees are human beings) and so on instead of just calling. Maybe other employees will interfere or otherwise make it more difficult to summon help, who knows when it’s an emergency.

              I mentioned this above, but the most effective policies involve simple procedures and quick access to professional help when needed. I’m guessing that since we don’t really discuss workplace safety here, folks aren’t used to discussing this issue.

              1. MK*

                In my country, there are two different 3-digit numbers, one for when you want/need immediate police intervention, another if there is a medical emergency (it connects you to the national healthcare system, in effect the nearest-to-you hospital on call, that’s what I meant by “calling the hospital”). If you call the police line, they will ask if you need an ambulance and call it themselves. If you call the healthcare line, they will simply sent an ambulance, but after they ask questions to verify the need, which can take longer.

                If I understand correctly, in the U.S. 911 calls emergency services in general. Other commentors have said that you don’t choose what responders will come, so I don’t actually understand how the OP used to not notify the police when there was an overdose.

              2. Forrest*

                “That means employees are going to hesitate when reaching for the phone.”

                Ok, this seems like a major stretch. Yes, kids are told to call 911 in emergencies – the key word here is “told.” Which is much different from actually putting that into practice.

                Most people are not calm in these kind of situations and most freeze. That’s why they tell you (if you are the calm and rational one) to give assignments to people. And if you’re calm you’re not going to forget the policy. You can decide to violate that policy but this idea that people will panic about whether to call the police or 911 ignores the fact that’ll be panicking anyway. In this case they’ll just be panicking about if they should call the police or 911 rather than panicking about if they should call 911 period.

          2. Lyman for President*

            How? In the United States (where the LW appears to be based) you call 911 and request assistance. The dispatcher’s job is to determine what assistance is being provided, and the caller DOES NOT have the authority to overrule the dispatcher.

            So, someone appears to be having a drug overdose. Employee calls 911, says “person is having a drug overdose”, and then the dispatcher sends the appropriate response. The employee can’t be like “hold up! we don’t want an ambulance! only send police! it’s the RULE.” The dispatcher won’t be like “welp, this person says its the rule, so I better not send an ambulance!”

            So, the manager’s rule is rather pointless simply because there is no way to enforce it based on the current system of emergency dispatch. It is true in some parts of the US that when calling for emergency assistance, you reach a police dispatcher – but, that same dispatcher makes the determination of whether additional emergency services (fire, ambulance) are needed and dispatches them accordingly.

            This has been explained to you in numerous comments, and you seem to just ignore it completely. Yes, it is a terribly policy, but it’s a largely unenforceable policy in practical terms.

            1. Lilo*

              Yeah I just don’t see any difference. There is one number to call either way. The policy is unenforceable.

              1. Someone Else*

                My reading of it is the old process involved staff calling something other than 911 to get an ambulance, which allowed for avoiding police. They’ve now been told to call the police not an ambulance, possibly in those words, which OP is interpreting to mean “no ambulances at all” when what was probably really meant was “stop using the method that avoids police”. Even if the employer did mean “no ambulances”, the easy way to follow the rule AND circumvent the “no ambulances” is to call 911, always, and then they decide what gets sent, which likely will mean an ambulance arrives and it’s completely out of OP’s hands (and thus they should not be punished for it…not that all employers are rational but I would hope they’d not be punished for 911 doing what 911 does). I highly doubt the employer means “call the police and lie and don’t mention the OD, just that the person is on/has drugs” because that’s what they’d need to do if they called 911 and were actively trying to prevent an ambulance, which is too ridiculous for me to fathom.

            2. Roscoe*

              Exactly. Mike C seems to be pushing an agenda and kind of ignoring facts.

              The one thing I do wonder though is if the employees were just calling a private ambulance company before (not sure if that is even possible) as opposed to 911

              1. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

                That’s what I was thinking. That and/or street outreach so that the police don’t get involved. If one is close enough to the opioid epidemic to carry around Narcan, they obviously care about the people involved and don’t want them to get in trouble. But I can see how the boss would see that as skirting law enforcement and saying “nope, just call 911, period.”

              2. LCL*

                Mike is pushing an agenda. The agenda being, in medical emergencies call 911, don’t waste any time in diagnosing the problem. It’s a good agenda.

                1. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

                  Sounds to me like that’s the agenda that the restaurant owner is pushing too.

            3. VioletEMT*

              I said this above, but in some areas, like larger cities, there are private ambulance services. They may have called one of those directly in the past, instead of calling 911. It’s the only way I can think of to get an ambo but no police. Some upscale businesses in big cities call private services when their customers need ambulances to keep things more discreet.

              If the new mandate is “call 911 instead of the private service,” then they’ll get cops with the ambo.

              1. Thankful for AAM*

                VioletEMT I think you got it right, they must be calling a private service instead of 911.

            4. Marzipan*

              I agree that an ambulance will ultimately come anyway. But I think Mike’s point is that any system which causes people to delay calling an ambulance because they aren’t sure if they’re ‘allowed’ is potentially unsafe. If I collapse in a restaurant I would like to think the staff will call the emergency services immediately; any time spent pausing to wonder if that’s OK is time that puts me at risk. As a general principle, ‘person collapses = call ambulance’ seems better.
              And, I’m yet to be convinced that the restaurant won’t impose consequences on staff of an ambulance comes (irrespective of who called it). Yes, that would be petty and ridiculous, bit so is telling staff not to call an ambulance in the first place.

              1. Rae*

                No. The private ambulance company VS 911. The manager is circumventing the non-official police help.

            5. Delphine*

              There must be some difference in what they did and what they are being asked to do since the LW specifically differentiated between the two…I doubt the LW used to call 911 and now is being told to call 911 and didn’t recognize that they’re the same thing.

      2. Observer*

        If you’re worrying about seconds, then they should not be “calling an ambulance” anyway. They should be calling 911.

        I think that the OP could easily make the case that a policy that instructs them to make decisions as to who to call is a really bad idea, and that the best way to deal with the business’ legitimate concerns is to have a policy of calling 911. Yes, that means that the police might show up, but I think that’s a reasonable tradeoff, for everyone’s safety.

        By the way, I don’t know about where the OP is, but some locales have police carrying narcan.

    2. Tema*

      I agree with this. Most law enforcement is pretty pro-narcan these days. If the police department in your area is in favor of civilians carrying narcan, you could use that to bolster your argument that you should be allowed to carry Narcan.

      1. Tema*

        Counties giving out Narcan do trainings – anyone prepared to administer it should do the training, and it is simple. Narcan isn’t given *instead* of calling emergencies services, but rather in addition. It’s much like performing CPR while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. Minutes matter a lot in opioid overdoses. Police are carrying it now in a lot of places because they often beat ambulances to scenes. Theoretically, Narcan has no effect on someone without opioids in their system. It’s become so widespread, I think we’d have heard by now if that was incorrect, or at least frequently incorrect. (For context, I work in this area on the law enforcement side.)

    3. MissGirl*

      Does carrying narcan create a liability issue? These aren’t trained EMTs, they are restaurant workers. What if they administered something incorrectly or to the wrong person. Both the workers and the owners have my sympathy. They’ve got their finger in the dam.

      I would advise to call 911 and let whatever emergency workers come.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It does seem to be a drug that has no particular effect in the absence of opioids to counter. (I looked it up. Also, it’s OTC in most states.) Still, even if you make a guess that this unconscious person is a drug overdose, I’d want trained medical personnel deciding whether it might actually be a stroke, heart attack, diabetes, allergy…

      2. WellRed*

        Frankly I am a bit disturbed there are a bunch of college age servers carrying narcan like it’s their job.

        1. eplawyer*

          I’m thinking the cost. You need this job, but yet you are spending out of pocket to help drug addicts. And spending that money to carry may cost you your job.

          Not that I’m against helping folks, but I’m not sure I would carry random drugs around “just in case” someone else needs it.

      3. neeko*

        Narcan is simple to administer. There is no side effect if you administer it to someone who is not having an overdose. They have them at all of the libraries in a lot of cities. It’s more common than most people realize.

        1. Rae*

          “Extremely rare” or not, I don’t want a stressed, overworked server accidentally dumping it on the table with a pocketful of crayons for my kid.

          1. neeko*

            It’s a nose spray with a safety cap that is sealed in a box. And it’s unlikely that someone would just be carrying it in their pocket. What are you even talking about?

            1. Rae*

              Where else would a server have it? If they are carrying it on their person, they have apron pockets and that’s about it.

    4. Mazzy*

      I had to look up Narcan because I never heard of it. I’m not seeing what the OP’s disagreement is about, despite one commenter being vehemently against the OP’s employer (it’s pretty annoying to read a thread taken over by one person’s opinion, but whatever). It’s not like banning insulin.

      1. Lilo*

        It isn’t quite as great as some of the literature would have you believe. It can have side effects and so isn’t this unibersally safe thing people are making it out to be. It is best, if possible, to let someone with training handle giving it.

      2. Susana*

        It actually is like banning insulin, in the sense that you’re saying they can’t carry something that cold save someone’s life. This seems more about the employer believing it’s OK to let an addict die (but not necessarily a diabetic). Which is not just awful but – how wold you know? I do think it makes sense to control bathroom access (maybe putting a code you need to get from waitstaff) to discourage locals from using the bathroom as a place to shoot up. No restaurant wants to be a drug haven of any kind.
        The part about calling the police made me wonder if thy were just supposed to say someone was creating a disturbance – as opposed to obviously OD’ing. In which case of course the police would send an EMT truck.

        1. Colette*

          The average restaurant worker doesn’t carry insulin unless it is for their personal use – if someone is in a diabetic coma, you call 911. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect restaurant workers to carry Narcan. It’s a little odd to ban it, but it’s not outrageous to decide that you are paying your restaurant workers to work in your restaurant and that paramedics should be the ones treating medical emergencies.

          1. PersephoneUnderground*

            Yes it is- it’s specifically telling them they can’t be prepared for an emergency that they have every reason to believe might happen. It would be like forbidding them from taking CPR classes on their own time or carrying epi-pens if they were worried about someone having an allergic reaction to the food. It’s not reasonable to say “I’m paying them to serve customers food, not give them CPR! They should get back to work!”

            1. Colette*

              But you can’t carry an epi pen for a stranger – it’s a prescription med. You call the paramedics.

              I get the impression that the staff has spent a lot of time dealing with overdose and drug issues, to the point where they have built a relationship with the outreach workers. That’s not really what the business is paying them for. If there’s an emergency, they should absolutely call 911 and follow the instructions 911 gives them, but otherwise, they should be doing the job they are getting paid for.

              Since they’ve been carrying Narcan, how often have they used it? What has happened when they do? If they administer it twice a week and 1/2 the time the person administering it has to go home to change or seek medical attention herself due to vomiting or aggressive behavior, that’s a good reason to decide they can’t carry it.

              1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

                But if you have an epi pen and you see a stranger in anaphylaxis, you administer it. Same with Narcan.

                1. Colette*

                  I’m pretty sure you don’t administer it – around here, that could get you in a lot of legal trouble (“prescribing” medication without a medical license and assault, for starters).

                2. A username for aam*

                  I am a first aid instructor. You cannot administer any prescription medication on a simple first aid cert. You can assist a person in administering their own medication (helping swing their hand to administer an EpiPen, push down on a rescue inhaler, etc) but you can only do that if the medication is in it’s original labeled packaging, in date, and matches the victim’s name and info.

                  You cannot assist in administering Non-Emergency prescriptions like insulin, you cannot give out OTC meds, and you cannot touch unlabled medication. If someone’s medication is not properly labeled they have to take it themselves or if they are too ill to do so, do without until EMS arrives and administers it for them.

                3. Colette*

                  @So long – that looks like a specific law that applies in the UK; it is not the case everywhere. But even if it’s legal or advisable to administer an epi pen to a stranger, that doesn’t mean everyone should be expected or allowed to carry an epi pen in case they come across a stranger in need. Nor should they carry oxygen tanks, AEDs, insulin, or other potentially life-saving things – that’s not what the public is generally expected to do.

                  Should the restaurant have naloxone on site? It sounds like it’s a good idea. But they’ve chosen not to, and (absent laws requiring it), they don’t have to, any more than then have to have an AED on site.

        2. Temperance*

          It’s not, though. I’m not obligated to carry insulin around to help random diabetics that I might encounter.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Re the drug only, it’s about whether employees can give a life-saving drug to someone likely suffering an overdose, rather than wait for an ambulance. And while my initial response was “what now? giving a drug to someone unconscious when you are a random untrained bystander?” apparently it’s a drug that is unlikely to cause any effect unless there are opioids in the system.

        So if the question is “Perform first aid while awaiting ambulance, specifically something that will be lifesaving if it’s what you think and have no effect it it’s something else” then banning them from carrying this tool seems misguided.

        1. PersephoneUnderground*

          Yes, that’s exactly it. I actually take this for other reasons and it has no side effects on me, and is very targeted – it just blocks the opiate receptors in the brain (which incidentally also blocks the “buzz” from alcohol so it’s used widely to treat alcoholism as well – modern medicine is truly amazing sometimes).

        2. PersephoneUnderground*

          Left out- it does mean I carry a little card informing ambulances that morphine etc. won’t work on me because I’m taking an opiate inhibitor.

      4. Tara R.*

        Do you live in an area where the opioid epidemic is bad? Officials are constantly encouraging people to carry Narcan here, and employees are trained to administer it at most clubs and music festivals I go to.

        1. Delphine*

          I’m surprised that so many people haven’t heard of Narcan and/or don’t realize that many employees have been receiving training to administer it. The opioid epidemic is out of control and it’s been receiving decent media attention.

          1. Tara R.*

            Yeah, I’m literally looking at a bus ad encouraging people to carry naloxone as I type this, so it’s a weird thought to me that some people haven’t even heard of it! Tbf I’m in an age and demographic (university-aged queer person) that has pretty high rates of recreational drug use in a city with a fentanyl crisis, so I probably hear more about it than the average person.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              I live in a big city in a neighborhood that doesn’t have an excessive drug problem. I expect people who work with high-risk populations and first responders, police, govt., etc. or live in higher crime and drug neighborhoods had heard of it. I hadn’t.

    5. PersephoneUnderground*

      This(RG’s comment) the business *telling them they can’t administer narcan is equivalent to telling them they can’t perform CPR* if a customer is having a heart attack. It is 100% immoral and a serious problem. They are telling them to let people actually die- seconds count, and waiting for the ambulance to arrive and administer it might be too late.

      If they won’t budge I do think this is worth quitting over – and then reporting to the local news exactly why. Hopefully media shaming might change the policy and save lives next time this happens. It doesn’t sound like the LW can count on it never happening since it has in the past, even with the blue lights.

      Maybe the money at other jobs won’t be as good, but you will know you did the right thing and probably be ok. You might look into work-study through your school or other further financial aid if you think you really can’t pay your basics without this particular job. I can’t imagine the toll watching someone die because I wasn’t allowed to carry a drug to save them might have on me- skipping the years of therapy bills would be a big money savings!

      1. Warren*

        The thing is I don’t think it would be reasonable to walk into any private business and assume that anyone there is or should be carrying narcan. It’s not like asking for a band aid. If the current staff of this restaurant were to leave and get replaced by new people it probably wouldn’t even be an issue, because most people wouldn’t think to carry it anyway. I would be pretty nonplussed if I was starting a job and was told I was *supposed* to carry narcan.

        Obviously it’s a bit different when people want to carry it and are being told not to. I admit that’s a bit cold. But if employees want to carry narcan in order to create a safe space for drug users then I can’t blame the business owners for pushing back against that. That isn’t the kind of reputation any business needs.

  6. Augusta Sugarbean*

    #1 Maybe things operate differently where you are but in most places I’ve lived, if someone appears to be overdosing, you call 911 and they are the ones who determine what resources to send. There’s no way a dispatcher would not send an ambulance just because your boss made a rule.

    Also, are you 100% positive the police will only take someone to jail? That’s getting less and less common. I work at a sobering facility. When the police encounter someone who appears under the influence, they bring them to us for further evaluation. In fact, barring a serious criminal charge, the jails in my area won’t accept anyone if they appear high/drunk.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I suppose it depends on the state that the OP is in. From what I understand (non-American here), each state has different laws regarding this. I.e. Florida might arrest the person after they’ve overdosed whereas Oregon might send them to rehab or something.

      Check your state laws OP.

      1. Bea*

        Worse. It’s not by state, it’s often by municipality. One cities cops will take you to outreach another will book you.

        Cops do what they want, the good ones carry narcan.

    2. Jane*

      This was my thought, too. Calling 911 brings you to an operator who asks you what the issue is, and they send the appropriate resources.

      I suppose you can call the police directly instead of 911 and say NO AMBULANCE, but that seems really inhumane (and also, they would probably STILL send an ambulance, because they could be considered negligent if they don’t). If someone is overdosing, you call 911 and say, a person is overdosing. They’ll probably send both police and an ambulance.

    3. Goya de la Mancha*

      This. Unless you call the non-emergency line (and even that I’m not entirely sure how that works), the dispatcher will decide who needs to be looped in based on the questions asked. Sometimes it’s automatic like if the fire department is dispatched then the ambulance is as well as a precaution.

    4. Peter the Bubblehead*

      I get a sense from the OP’s letter that the manager has not said “It is forbidden to call an ambulance.” My sense is the manager has stated, “Call 911. Let the police and EMTs handle this.” But the OP doesn’t want to get the police involved and has preferred to call for help from something other than 911, which is definitely NOT the way to go in this situation. The OP is putting an addict’s life into graver danger by not calling 911 as any witness should.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        I disagree that OP was putting addicts’ lives in danger. OP tells us that “We used to call an ambulance and a street outreach program that had experience with addiction”. Honestly, any random cop is not going to be better equipped than the street outreach program. And there are WAY too many incidents where cops respond to a mentally impaired person, order the person to do Thing (eg: lie down on the ground), and then shoot the person for “refusing” to do Thing. Cops are not the best first option.

    5. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

      Agreed. Dropping someone off in genpop at County when they need to be in a sobering cell or at a hospital exposes the PD to a ton of liability. Even poorly run departments are often cognizant of big liability red flags like that. If a cop suspects that someone has ODed or is so drunk or high that they cannot care for their own safety, they’re being brought to a hospital or other facility who can deal with that.

  7. Tara R.*

    #2: As someone who grew up in the texting era, 98% of unannounced phone calls come from three sources– telemarketers, health care providers trying to set up an appointment, and my mom. I would still find it very unusual to get a job offer through email– that’s never happened to me before, even at internships aimed towards high school students where you’re not exactly going to be negotiating the salary or anything. If I knew I was in the final stages of an interview process, I would be keeping a close eye on my phone and not answering it in loud or public locations.

    If I’m remembering right, most of my jobs have ended up leaving a voicemail (they tend to call in the middle of the day when I’m busy). They’ll usually just say something along the lines of “Hi, it’s Janet calling from Company about X position, I’ve got some good news that I’d love to talk to you about when you get a chance to call me back”, rather than making the offer through voicemail.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m the same.

      Whenever my phone rings, I just don’t answer it because no one I know would actually call me. They get in touch via Messenger or Whatsapp. Although, if I was in the middle of a job application then I would answer my phone when it rings because the expectation is there that they’ll be reaching out to you.

      The last job I had in the UK, I was offered the job over an “unscheduled” phone call and then they sent me the information via e-mail.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        I don’t answer calls I don’t recognize and I turned off my voicemail bc that’s 30 seconds of my life I’ll never get back (I really hate voicemail). I don’t know what I will do when I start job searching! I’ll have to start answering all calls and turn on the voicemail.

        Maybe when job searching a temporary, pay as you go, “burner phone” is the way to go. The kind you put minutes on as needed. Lol but I am thinking that I might do that.

        1. Legalchef*

          You can just get a google voice number, too. It will ring through to your cell and the voicemail will be based through google, so you wouldn’t need to turn your personal vm back on.

        2. PersephoneUnderground*

          When job searching, you can turn on voicemail and use “visual voicemail” which transcribes your messages into text so you can skim them- some even will send them to your email. Different apps are available for this, and different phone carriers also offer it as a feature.

          1. ThatGirl*

            It’s such a small thing, but my favorite thing about iOS is the automatic voicemail transcription and ability to play voicemails right from the screen instead of needing to dial anything.

            1. foolofgrace*

              If I’m understanding your description correctly, my Android phone does that also. I can get my voicemails by clicking and listening to them, having VM transcribe to text within the voicemail app, or send them as text messages, which is my favorite.

              1. ThatGirl*

                My voicemails automatically show up with a “play” button and a transcription. I know that some Androids also do this or that there are apps that do, but it wasn’t a standard feature the last time I had an Android so I was delighted to discover it on my iPhone.

            2. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

              I know – I love it! The transcription isn’t the best, but it’s good enough to know if I can just delete it or if I should actually take the time to play it. I wish my work voice mail had that feature.

              My boyfriend still has an ANSWERING MACHINE. Like with a tiny cassette tape and everything. I don’t even remember how one of those works.

        3. Pollygrammer*

          I always let calls from unknown numbers go to voicemail. It’s actually really helpful when job hunting, because people will call and somehow expect me to be prepared for a 15-20-30 minute phone interview right then and there.

          I don’t want to call them back until I’ve mentally prepared myself, reviewed the job description, and all the things you would do before you started a scheduled phone interview.

  8. Marlene*

    OP #1
    I am from a state with a horrific epidemic going on. The effects are hard to quantify. I will say that the restaurants that are frequented by addicts are unappealing, unsanitary and even dangerous to other customers and staff. You have needles and open prostitution outside; blood hazards (one addict cut her vein open at a table), drug dealing and fights inside. The areas surrounding the restaurant become unsafe as well, with crime and drugs spreading to other nearby businesses and homes. These businesses honestly should clean up their act by acting as your business is doing, or shut down.

    1. Mark132*

      My daughter quit her previous job after a homeless guy walked in the restaurant and stole a bag of chips and walked out the door, in front of her and other customers. That was the final straw, it just wasn’t worth the risk.

    2. Cait*

      Agreed.

      OP, your bosses are in the business of running a business, not a safe haven for drug use. Restaurant employees should not be carrying around narcan because they have that many overdoses on premise.

      It’s obviously a big enough problem that management has had to take steps to address it (and really, keeping bathrooms to patrons and employees only is not extreme, at all). Calling the police on erratic behavior is also not unusual, it keeps the employees and other patrons safe.

      If you see an emergency, call 911. I read management’s intents on calling police not an ambulance is that they don’t want their people determining what kind of emergency is going on. Just call the police (911) and they will do their job, you do yours. You’re not a charity (I know that sounds harsh but it’s true).

    3. Zip Silver*

      This. I can only imagine how bad the situation is if employees are carrying around Narcan for their customers. If the restaurant has a reputation as a junkie hangout (especially in the days of Yelp and TripAdvisor) that’ll kill their business, and the owners have to protect themselves. In all reality, the blue lights and outright refusing service to people under the influence will probably be all that’s necessary to clean the clientele up.

      1. Ender*

        Yes this. I’ve never even heard of narcan before and I can’t imagine frequenting a restaurant that’s so badly overrun with addicts that the employees have to carry anti-overdose meds!

        OP you seem to feel that your employer should care more about the addicts that frequent your restaurant than they do about making a profit. That’s a lovely thought, but unfortunately the world doesn’t work that way. The business owners are thinking of this as a business, not a drop-in centre for addicts.

        It seems like the drug outreach people do a lot of work in the area. Maybe you could get a job with them? It seems like you would enjoy that work a lot more.

        1. Positive Reframer*

          Excellent idea on the drug outreach job, I bet they need people working the late shift too. However it may not be as lucrative but honestly if your restaurant is having this many problems the long term prospects for good tips are probably not great.

      2. Lilo*

        Honestly, if It is that bad already, I doubt this place is going to make it. The rep is already there.

        1. Lady Phoenix*

          Yeah. There is a Steak & Shake nearby that was ran so terribly by the owner that it got a bad rep. New owner, but the rep is still there (probably cause it is still run badly).

          Reputations are hard to fix, especially if you still have the same people working there.

        2. Dr. Pepper*

          All I could think of reading the letter was “I would NOT want to eat there, like ever”. That rep will haunt the place, and if it goes on long enough there won’t be any customers to serve and the place will close.

    4. Lilo*

      The issues is also that, thanks to fentanyl, heroin residue can be dangerous. My sister is a prosecutor and finds dealers of fentanyl or thise who cut the drugs with fentanyl particularly evil. There are tons cases of cops and EMTs getting sick and one little boy dying just from touching the stuff. I disagree with the narcan rule, but if your place is a hotbed of drug activity, I wouldn’t go there and definitely wouldn’t let my kid go in the bathroom because of the risk of fentanyl. My sister refers to that stuff as “peddling death”.

      I think the narcan can protect you guys as well as users. If your location already has a problem and I might use that argument to push back. I am not unsympathetic, I lost a cousin to heroin, but I understand wanting to get the drugs off the property. It just makes everyone unsafe.

        1. Lilo*

          I did some reading and it doesn’t get you from touching it alone, but it is very easy to touch it and either inhale or get it in your mucus membranes. That’s really splitting hairs – that stuff is poison and will kill people. Most of the people killed by it are people who don’t know the strength of what they took, which, to be clear, is 100% a tragedy (it’s what killed Prince after all).

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, carrying Narcan–the example that stuck with me is a cop who got some powder from a car accident transferred to bare skin (even though he was dressed and wearing gloves) and collapsed–powder was fentanyl–and very fortunately the local emergency crews had just started carrying Narcan and his fellow officer immediately dosed him and due to that he survived, though hospitalized for some time after due to effects of the accidental fentanyl dose. So I definitely think all emergency personnel should be carrying it, just because encountering fentanyl is now a risk. If it’s actually as safe to use as suggested (not going to make cardiac or insulin problems worse) I can see random citizenry carrying it.

        Though even there, I’m with management on the problem with the reputation, “Mike’s is a great place to shoot up–the staff all carry Narcan.” But I wouldn’t ban the staff from carrying this, or any other OTC drug.

        1. neeko*

          Though even there, I’m with management on the problem with the reputation, “Mike’s is a great place to shoot up–the staff all carry Narcan.”

          Yeah, that is a strawman argument. There are NO studies that support this. It effectively “ruins” a high and so it’s extremely unlikely that people are thinking that way.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            There seems to be a thing with some opioid use–not going to say I understand it–where people shoot up where they will be found if they’re unconscious. Rather than in their own room, an alley, the woods, or any of the zillions of places they could probably go up, come down, and not be noticed by anyone (or at least not by anyone who cared enough to call an ambulance). They don’t want their trip interrupted, but they try, in their own hard-to-understand way, to not OD.

        1. Lilo*

          There are stories of people getting exposed though and they got sick somehow. Maybe they touched it and then something they ate or drank, but the stories of people getting sick (and that kid dying) are real.

          That stuff is still powdered death though (mostly for addicts) and I am glad my sister is helping go after the dealers.

      2. So long and thanks for all the fish*

        That’s probably a really good way for the OP to push back on the narcan ban, the risk of an unsuspecting employee or customer touching fentanyl.

    5. Not Today Satan*

      Yeah. I live near an area hit hard by the opiate epidemic. Something that bothers me about a lot of harm reduction activists is they don’t seem to take seriously collateral damage of the epidemic–people who happen to live in the thick of it. Businesses that lose business (or even shut down) because no paying customer wants to eat at the restaurant where everyone else is high. Children who need to walk past public sex acts, drug use, and dirty needles to go to school. Playgrounds that are unusable because drug users have taken them over. Etc.
      I think the opiate epidemic is one of the most important challenges of our day–the loss of life is horrific. I just think most people could be a little more holistic about it.

      All that to say, I disagree with the Narcan ban, and I think not calling ambulances is bad (and not something I was obey), but I’m sympathetic to the owner.

      1. Lilo*

        That story of the little boy dying because he was exposed to fentanyl while walking home from the pool was just so upsetting. They don’t know how he was exposed but the best guess is he just picked up a piece of trash. Fentanyl is strong enough that just touching a couple grains would have been enough.

      2. Natalie*

        Most harm reduction activists I know *are* in the thick of it, and the point of disagreement is how to deal with the issue, not whether to.

    6. EPLawyer*

      I kinda agree with the general policy. The restaurant is a business. They don’t want drug addicts in their business. Which is a perfectly acceptable position to take. It’s all well and good to be all “oh they need treatment not jail” when you are the one NOT worried about making payroll, paying suppliers, etc. It’s either do something to move the problem out of the business so the business can be profitable or the business closes. What then?

      Now, are there aspects of this policy that are stupid? Yes. How do you do know someone is high so you can refuse service rather than just not feeling well that day, having a bad day, having some medical reaction, whatever? You can’t. The blue lights in the bathroom would drive me nuts. Banning the ambulance is not going to work. Are they going to fire someone because they call 911 and an ambulance is sent? Yes, the cops should be called rather than trying to bypass the system.

      But banning Narcan? Yes. It is not professionals administering medication. You have no idea how the person will react. They could be allergic to it. You could screw up the injection. Whatever. This is no different than not sharing your prescription meds at work.

      1. Lizzy May*

        Just to clarify, Narcan isn’t an injection in most cases. It’s a nasal spray and while you need to have a bit of understanding to use it, it was designed to be very easy to use. In many places you can get Narcan OTC; it is not equivalent to a prescription. And it saves lives. No one should have to administer Narcan if they’re not comfortable with it, but telling people who want to that they can’t feels wrong.

      2. Tara R.*

        I just looked at the Government of Canada page and it reads “Naloxone is a safe drug and administering naloxone to a person that is unconscious because of a non-opioid overdose is unlikely to create more harm.” Every paramedic, cop, and public safety official that I’ve encountered at university events, pride booths, news articles, etc, has recommended administering Naxolone in cases of suspected overdose.

    7. mcr-red*

      Agree 100% Not a day goes by where we don’t hear about at least one person ODing on heroin in our area. If you all are at the point where you are carrying NARCAN on you because people are constantly ODing at your place – I don’t want to go there. I don’t want my kids to go there. I don’t want my friends or family to go there. While it is an epidemic, the majority of the population are not opiod addicts, so if you get the reputation of being a hangout for them, the majority of the population is going to avoid it and you’re going to close.

      I agree that addicts need help and support. Providing them a place to do their drug of choice is not help though, that’s enabling. They need a treatment program, and sometimes jails DO have treatment programs in house. I say all this as someone who knew an addict who went to treatment, said all the right things, got out, told his friends/family all the right things, and the moment he was alone, got heroin OD’d and died.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        And when the restaurant closes, the OP is going to lose that job she needs, and so are all of her coworkers. The addicts aren’t the only ones being hurt here.

      2. tusky*

        “Providing them a place to do their drug of choice is not help though, that’s enabling.”

        This isn’t necessarily true. There are harm reduction approaches to managing substance use disorders that include safe or supervised consumption sites. I’m not suggesting that a random restaurant bathroom can serve as such a site, but I don’t think it’s helpful to promote the idea that punitive or zero tolerance approaches (i.e. jailing) are always the best route.

    8. Dr. Pepper*

      That’s kind of what I was thinking. There’s places in my town that you DO NOT GO to unless you’re part of that scene. There’s a bars/restaurants/seedy motels that seem to exist for the drug users and dealers and associated gangs and… yeah. You do not go there. The new measures seem overly harsh, but maybe the business is in danger of closing because customers are being scared off by these people.

  9. I coulda been a lawyer*

    Using Narcan without training is a real issue and exposes your employer to legal consequences if you misdiagnose or misuse it. It sounds like you are in the US, so when you tell 911 that someone appears to be ODing, they are going to send police (because they are faster and are trained to use Narcan) AND an ambulance. And calling “street outreach”? How angry would you be if your loved one went into a diabetic coma or some other medical emergency and died after being given Narcan by one untrained stranger while being lectured about getting clean by an other stranger that the business called in to “help” instead of calling trained professionals? I’m guessing angry enough to sue the business out of existence, which is what the insurance agent told the owner. If you want to administer Narcan and call outreach on your walk from home to the grocery store, that’s on you. But if you do it at work, it’s on the business. You won’t have to worry about keeping your paycheck because the business will be gone.

    1. Mike C.*

      Uh, lots of places have give out blanket prescriptions for narcan after being educated on how to administer it.

    2. Geoffrey B*

      You seem to be responding to things that OP#1 never said. I don’t see anybody advocating for “using Narcan without training” or “lecturing diabetics about getting clean instead of calling trained professionals”.

    3. saddesklunch*

      Giving narcan to someone who is not overdosing has no ill effects – it is a true antidote to opioids but won’t do anything to someone who is not overdosing except make it so that opioid painkillers have no effect for 30 minutes to an hour.

      Based on the rules of this restaurant it’s more likely that someone in a diabetic coma would die because employees thought they were overdosing and hesitated to call an ambulance when they should have.

      1. Maddie*

        Narcan has plenty of potentially serious side effects. It’s not given without serious indication.

          1. Observer*

            I suggest that you give a look at the (reputable) sites that discuss medication side effects. While seriosu side effects are rare, they absolutely DO exist.

            1. neeko*

              Sure. You are right. There are some extremely rare side effects. However, there are more commonly life-saving effects of this drug. I’m just so frustrated with some of the comments about this.

            2. Tara R.*

              EpiPens can also cause side effects. I have yet to see someone advocating to not administer one to a child who appears to be in anaphylaxis.

              1. IceTea4Meee*

                Actually my employer has a policy stating that epi pens should only be administered to the person they are prescribed to. It’s to limit their liability from their Employee’s actions. That being said if my coworker who is allergic to bees gets stung and can’t find his I will use mine on him.

                1. Tara R.*

                  Naloxone is OTC most places that I know of though, so there’s no prescription issue. The question is more “This person is actively dying in front of my eyes, is it ok to give them a medication that has an almost certain chance of not harming them at all if I’m incorrect about what the problem is & a very good chance of saving their life if I’m correct?” Don’t go shoving Narcan up the nose of every person you find passed out, but there are usually pretty strong context clues that someone has ODed, and the chances of you harming them are very small. You do have to make the call on your own safety though, because from what I’ve heard they’ll often wake up swinging (kind of like touching someone in the midst of a PTSD flashback).

        1. Tara R.*

          I feel like I’m repeating myself ad nauseum, but this is misinformation that has the potential to seriously harm people. There are extremely rare side effects, negligible enough that they are not mentioned in most public health campaigns which strongly encourage anyone who is at higher risk of witnessing an overdose to consider carrying naloxone and administering it (after/while calling 911).

      2. Observer*

        Yeah, but if you give it to someone who looks like they might be oding, but actually aren’t, you might kill them because you’ve delayed treatment. You really need to call 911 for this stuff.

        1. Natalie*

          Of course, those aren’t mutually exclusive – you can call 911 and administer narcan – in fact, you are advised to do that, just like you’re advised to call 911 and perform CPR concurrently.

    4. Maddie*

      Agreed. And I shudder to think of a diabetic patient having a severe hyper or hypoglycemic episode and having Narcan wrongfully injected. It could cause a fatal rhythm.

      1. Swordspoint*

        Where I am in Canada, you can get Narcsn without a prescription, but you do have to be trained in its use. That includes how to recognize an opioid overdose. No one should be confusing an OD with a diabetic coma.

      2. Swordspoint*

        “Could cause a fatal rhythm”? Naloxone blocks opioid receptors; it doesn’t affect heart rhythm. This is nonsense.

        1. Observer*

          Actually, among the possible side effects of narcan are effects on blood pressure (considered uncommon, but generally severe when it happens) and effects on heart rate and rhythm. (faster heart rate tends to be less severs, but the arrhythmia tends to be severe although it’s considered rare.)

          1. Tara R.*

            A quick google seems to indicate that Narcan (which is a specific brand) is only available as a nasal spray, although naloxone (the drug itself) is available in many forms, including auto-injectors similar to EpiPens. Not trying to nitpick, I was just curious because I had never heard of Narcan injections!

      3. Tara R.*

        I really wish we could avoid fearmongering. Narcan provided OTC is generally a nasal spray, and it is very rare for it to have significant side effects on someone who is not on opioids. I have been encouraged to carry it and use it if needed by paramedics and cops— there are cities running PSA campaigns encouraging people to carry it. This isn’t some super deadly deranged idea OP and her coworkers came up with, it’s common advice by professionals and public health officials.

        1. Observer*

          It’s not a crazy idea, but it IS something that has the potential to cause problems. And in the context the OP is describing, it’s not crazy for the new owners to be concerned about it. I still think that the ban is a mistake, but not terribly egregious.

          1. Tara R.*

            I think the “potential to cause problems” of someone being dead who could otherwise be alive is pretty egregious. If I were one of OP’s coworkers and someone died as a result of this policy I would be running straight to the media.

            1. Tara R.*

              I scrambled my words here. I meant it’s egregious to allow people to die, and it could cause them more problems in the end (if what they’re worried about is PR/business and not people dying).

    5. Arctic*

      #1: I think almost every point has been covered already, but I just wanted to add that carrying narcan is a great thing for anyone to do. It’s available without a prescription (OTC) in 47 US states, Australia, and Canada.

      It’s very easy to administer. It comes as either a nasal spray or auto-injector (same as an epipen). You don’t need any training outside of reading the instructions it comes with.

      Given the current opioid epidemic and fentanyl issue, carrying it in your bag or car could save a life someday.

    6. OhGee*

      It’s odd to me that you think a street outreach organization’s staff would not have training in identifying drug overdose. They aren’t necessary medical doctors, but drug use and mental health crises are going to be things they expect to encounter regularly. They’re likely to have better training than a random bystander.

      1. Lilo*

        There is a slight risk of “if you have a hammer everything is a nail”. A street outreach professional is trained to recognize and OF but if they don’t have other medical training it is harder to distinguish other medical conditions that look like an opioid OD.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        But if I’m having a seizure or fall into a diabetic coma and you call a street outreach organization instead of 911, that is putting me in even more risk of not getting the care I need immediately. If someone is having a medical emergency, a policy of calling 911 makes perfect sense. When I initially read the letter, I automatically equated “calling an ambulance” with “calling 911” but from other comments here, I’m learning that is likely a false equivalence.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Same on interpreting “calling an ambulance.” If the rule is now “Call 911 and let trained people sort out what the medical condition is” I have no beef with that.

      3. Observer*

        In addition, if staff are calling street outreach, even if those folks get it right, that adds a major layer of delay if the problem is not an OD.

    7. neeko*

      Using Narcan without training isn’t “a real issue”. It’s a nose spray. The instructions are on the box.

    8. SavannahMiranda*

      + 10,000

      It’s not a moral discussion, though it feels like it. It’s not a matter of ethical theory, although it has that aspect too.

      It’s an issue of legal liability, authorized healthcare and medical practice and the insurance, qualifications, and training to go with those activities, and who is making decisions while clocked in about what healthcare to render and social and public aid to call on, while in uniform and representing the business whether they want to think so or not.

      Simply. That’s it. It’s harsh, but that’s it. Unless the restaurant needs to fold in order to get out of this sticky wicket they’re in, and maybe they do. They may be in a no-win situation in their community.

      The ethical issues here do not match the legal issues. Unless by ethical issues one means keeping a business afloat that employs moms and dads, young and old people, and pays them money that affords them food and funds for housing and basic needs.

      And the ethical issue of not wanting to see the pants sued off of coworkers because of well-meaning mistakes. Not just the owners, not just the impersonal ‘business’, but coworkers as individuals can get caught up in vicious litigation, the people who can worst afford to be in that position.

      Because these are ethical issues too. Destroying a business in the name of moral purity, or allowing a culture to persist where coworkers are in harms way legally, is not heroic either.

  10. Edith*

    #4: My boss is in your exact situation– the first name she uses is not her legal first name, nor is it a common nickname for her real first name, and she’s two marital status changes away from the last name she had when she graduated. She has her diplomas on the wall in her office, and it’s a complete non-issue. Nicknames and maiden names are super common concepts that everyone understands. You earned those degrees. If you want them on display, display away!

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      This seems so joyful!

      I’m imagining you flinging glitter as you cry – “display away!”

    2. Emmie*

      It may be different given her occupation, so I understand why she’d like to change it. Schools often ask how you’d like your name to appear on your diploma. The last name change should be a non-issue, especially with proof of a name change. I don’t know how the school will react to the first name though it may be possible. If the school only allows legal names then I suggest doing her initials: R M Geller; R. Monica Geller; R B Geller.

    3. Ozma the Grouch*

      Question for the peanut gallery… are we supposed to update our Alma Maters if/when we get married/change our names for reference checks? I’ve always wondered that. Do employers actually look that stuff up?

  11. Geoffrey B*

    #1: Even under the manager’s value system – which is a long way from mine – some of these measures could easily backfire.

    Having fewer people injecting on premises isn’t necessarily an improvement if it means more of them dying through lack of Narcan/ambulance or by injecting in places like the neck. And blue lights might as well be a way to say “this establishment has a serious problem” to ALL your customers.

    1. MK*

      Well,they do seem to have a serious problem. If overdoses are frequent enough that the employees are accustomed to carry medication to deal with them and they are sort of of partnered with an outreach group, I don’t think it’s the light in the restrooms that will tip off customers.

      1. Lady Phoenix*

        this. I think a bigger indication of a drug problem in an establishment… is drug and drug users at an establishment, multiple calls from ambulances, staff having to drop everything to treat people who OD’s…
        I think a Blue Light is the least of the establishment’s concerns.

    2. Clodagh*

      As someone who worked in a building with blue lights, I would also add that they’re not terribly effective. We had multiple cases of people tracing their veins with marker before going into the toilets.

    3. Roscoe*

      Based on OPs description, there was a serious problem. The blue lights just would show that they are trying to deal with it.

  12. Grand Mouse*

    As someone who has a few medical conditions that could look like being on drugs/overdosing the instructions not to call an ambulance is terrifying. If anything, I would push back hard on this.
    Also I work in an emergency services office and the police and fire/medic responders communicate with each other on responding to an emergency so likely an ambulance would be called anyway. But this harsh punishment of drug users concerns me.

    1. Bagpuss*

      I agree, I think it is reasonable to push back against the bar on calling an ambulance (perhaps point out that you are not medically trained and that there are lots of other conditions, such as Stroke, Diabetes, dehydration, even anaphylaxis, which could look like an overdose to an untrained person, and that it would be very damaging for the business if they failed to get help for someone who needs it.
      Whilst I do not share the views of the new owners, I don’t think the things like the blue lights or refusing service or banning those who appear to be drunk or under the influence of drugs are objectively unreasonable. They are running a restaurant, not an outreach service. I also think it is understandable that they could be concerned about having staff administer medications. I don’t know enough about Narcan to know whether it is truly something which has no side effects or contra-indications .
      OP, I’d suggest that you push back hard on the not calling an ambulance point, and perhaps speak to the outreach service in your own time to make them aware of the new rules so that they can make the affected community aware

  13. alienor*

    I can totally understand the restaurant taking precautions to discourage people from actively shooting up on the premises. My stepfather had an accidental needle stick recently (he’s a bus driver and someone had left a used needle on the bus), and he ended up having to make multiple trips to a clinic over the next several months to make sure he wasn’t going to contract HIV/hepatitis/some other bloodborne pathogen. I don’t want to experience that as a customer of a restaurant, and I wouldn’t want it as an employee either.

    Being told not to call an ambulance when someone is actively overdosing is another story and I think employees should protest that. Refusing medical assistance is inhumane and won’t help people get off drugs or prevent them from coming into the restaurant while high.

      1. Alienor*

        Thank you! He’s fine, but it was a stressful time for both him and my mom. Definitely not an experience either of them want to repeat.

        1. JustaTech*

          I’m glad he’s OK. May I take this as an opportunity to recommend that adults get the HepB shot? There are drugs now to treat Hep C, and there are anti-retrovirals to help prevent HIV, but the only thing for HepB is vaccination.

  14. GT*

    I feel you, OP 3. I had 5 bosses at my last job. One never acknowledged me, one was good (but offsite) and three responded to different tasks I had completed with, “Good job! Give me a hug!” (They were also *cough* committed to women in the workplace…in public vocalizations only.) My predecessor, who was male, never got hugs as a reward.
    Get out. Seriously. I had tunnel vision for so long, and now I’m in a much better place. You’re (rightfully) bitter, but the only way to get that taste out of your mouth is to find a different job.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Get out. Seriously.

      Seconding this. I think Alison is dead on that you can get so overwhelmed by the big things that you focus on the small ones. The big thing is that you aren’t happy, you’ve told them clearly what you want, and their response is to suggest cheesecake. Moving yourself elsewhere is within your control; getting other people to behave in a totally different manner than what they have demonstrated to date is not.

      Of as a friend put in “I take jobs; I leave managers.”

      1. Ama*

        Yes. When I was in a job with an overwhelming workload (and where the big bosses constantly tried to gaslight me about how big the workload was) I would get furious about things like someone accidentally printing 20 copies of a 20 page paper to the main printer or having a huge package delivered when they were out of the office for a month. Neither of these were actually huge deals and took maybe five minutes of my day to resolve but since I couldn’t get the big bosses to address my overall workload I got extra unhappy anytime a coworker accidentally did something that caused me even a tiny bit of extra work.

        Now I’m in a place where they actually value both my work and my opinion and it has made a world of difference. (Meanwhile old job had to hire 2 full time and 1 part time people to handle everything I was doing.) It can seem extremely daunting to start job searching, especially when your work morale is already low, but there are better jobs and better managers out there.

        1. Chaordic One*

          Those five minutes of extra work can really upset you when you really don’t have five extra minutes in the day to do them. One thing that really bugged me at my bad old job was when the got a new computer system that was nowhere near as efficient to use as the old one. The new system was unintuitive to use required additional steps to input the same data as before which took longer, and I didn’t really have the time to do it.

          Bosses just don’t seem to get it and it seems like the only thing you can do is get out.

    2. WaitingForEarlyRetirement*

      OP#3 here – it is disgusting that you would get hugs! I would say “I’m not a hugger” because I am not and that would seriously bother me. I suppose I should have said that I’ve been with my employer for 25+ years and I am sure that this manager will be gone in 2-3 as he likes to climb the ladder. Changing jobs is something I’ve been looking at but it isn’t a great economic climate right now, and I have a lot of positive reasons (PENSION) to stay. I think I will refuse food and hope that he doesn’t try and do anything different for me because it feels condescending and rude. If it was at all sincere (instead of obligatory because he wants to do something for his “pets”) then I may feel differently.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        If you do refuse the food (and I understand why), I’d take Alison’s advice and say something like “I don’t actually eat chocolate” instead of… whatever it is you really truly want to say. If you need to stay in this job, you don’t want to make an enemy of someone who is already not a particularly good friend.

        1. WaitingForEarlyRetirement*

          Absolutely Rusty. I want to just say “No thank you” but I suppose I could explain “I’m not eating chocolate these days” or something like that so I don’t seem hostile.

      2. Dr. Pepper*

        I have actually received food as a token of appreciation from a boss and I loved it. Under certain circumstances it’s not a bad thing. I had to work over the Christmas holidays, including on Christmas day, and he literally brought me all the ingredients for Christmas dinner including a roast since in our industry bonuses aren’t a thing and he wanted to do something nice for me since I got no holiday. But he also frequently expressed verbal appreciation for my work, gave me excellent reviews, and lobbied the higher-ups to pay me a fair wage. You know, the regular things you want at work when you’re doing well at your job.

        1. Lady Phoenix*

          Yup. Once in a blue moon, my boss will get me a Dunkin Donuts/Starbucks coffee or something. I am also given gift cards for helping with our big expos (which I spend on a cake for birthdays). I still get verbal appreciation.

      3. wheeeee*

        OP#3 I would just say over and over, “No thank you” to whatever is offered. It’s a matter of integrity. Accepting the fake “thanks” is agreeing that what is happening is OK, and it is not OK with you. I don’t mean saying it in a nasty way, but simply not accepting something that is unacceptable to you, either.

        1. WaitingForEarlyRetirement*

          OP#3 here – that is exactly what I want to do, politely decline with “no thank you”. Ultimately I’d like to discourage any more food offerings as a form of praise, but since they don’t take no for an answer I just won’t eat any. I feel bullied into doing things above my pay grade, without fair compensation, and my concerns have been ignored…so why would I want to ‘celebrate’ the end of the project with people who made it so much more difficult than it ever had to be (if others would have just been held accountable to do their jobs). Everyone is off at a staff picnic right now, and because of my food allergies, I declined to go. I am alone in the office and it is so nice and quiet… :) I like the work I do, but I don’t like the way I’m treated a lot of the time.

          1. wheeeee*

            “I feel bullied into doing things above my pay grade, without fair compensation, and my concerns have been ignored…so why would I want to ‘celebrate’”

            Oh, I have been there! Good luck to you. I know I would not be able to be gracious about accepting fake “thanks” under such circumstances. Sometimes you just have to say “No, this is wrong and I will not participate in this”.

    3. Dr. Pepper*

      Seriously, get out. A chocolate bar or cheesecake?? I love both of those things and I would be insulted as hell if that was my only “thanks” for a huge project. I’ve worked many a menial monkey job where bonuses and raises weren’t really a thing, and a sincere verbal “thank you, I really appreciate your work” was enough for me to feel appreciated. That’s the key, it has to be sincere. Not “oh, huh, I suppose it’s customary to reward people for doing a good job, so… uh……………. hey, here’s some candy!” Which is patronizing and willfully ignorant of the normal things people actually want professionally. This is what you give a kid who earned enough gold stars to get a treat.

      1. WaitingForEarlyRetirement*

        Dr Pepper (OP#3 here) exactly — if it was sincere then just the words “thanks” would be more than enough. But the other 2 people who were much less involved than me are the bosses favorites – so he will want to do something for them and isn’t mean enough to exclude me. The project lead just thanked me for this “huge undertaking” (of creating the training materials in a day and a half!) but it means nothing because it was forced upon me when I had valid reasons for not wanting to do it (above my pay grade, very busy with other work, short staffed). I have no doubt they are glad someone competent got everything done….but don’t think they care at the personal cost for me (putting in extra hours for no OT pay – just banked time). An ounce of compassion or sincerity would go a lot farther than a chocolate bar.

        1. wheeeee*

          “An ounce of compassion or sincerity would go a lot farther than a chocolate bar.”

          Why oh why don’t more bosses understand this?!

    4. Lucille2*

      I’ve been there too and I really love Alison’s advice on this. At OldJob, I attended a super awkward meeting where I was awarded a cheap, acrylic plaque thanking me for my participation in some grand project. The same cheap, acrylic plaque was given to anyone who had their name in any way associated with said project regardless of their level of effort. This came at the end of a long year of reporting to different bosses with varying degrees of involvement or interest, and finding out my salary was much less than some of my direct reports, receiving a poor performance review for no clear reason except for taking maternity leave, among other atrocities. I wanted soooo badly to ceremoniously throw away the plaque in the meeting room for all the team to see. But I didn’t. And I’m so glad now that I didn’t. Because it’s a thing I would’ve regretted now that I have a lot of distance between me and OldJob. It’s just not a thing mature, professionals do. Taking the high road and finding a better job is a thing mature, professionals do.

      1. Waitingfor EarlyRetirement*

        Appreciate your perspective Lucille2. I’m OP#3. I’ve been with this employer since I was 17 (so over 25 years). I have a pension to consider. I’ve seen my fair share of bad managers over the years (and a couple of good ones too!). The token plaque with the group praise is hardly thanks, but I am glad you didn’t throw it away in the moment either. I hope my boss doesn’t do anything; if he does bring in food I will decline and blame my food allergies so I don’t appear to be hostile. If the project lead does anything (like a group plaque) I will accept it and destroy it once I get home – I’ll turn it into art. Insincere ‘thanks’ is worse than none in some instances. If my boss really wanted to show some gratitude, my job fact sheet would get updated.

        1. happierNow*

          You keep saying that you don’t want to lose your pension. And that isn’t small potatoes. But here are a few thoughts.

          1. If you retire at 65, you have another 23 to get your pension. That’s a long time to do a job when you don’t feel appreciated. Is your pension worth 23 more years of pain to you? (I mean, you’ve said this boss will probably be gone up the ladder, but may name a successor who is just as bad.)
          2. With 25 years in, you ought to be vested in one way or another. Can you retire? Even better, can you retire and take another job?
          3. There is always a place for a talented hard worker and team player. You sound like one. You should (discreetly) look for another job. Even if you don’t find a better offer, you might find a better situation.

          You just seem super unhappy, and (worse) marginalized. Moreover, it just doesn’t seem like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I once had a similar experience (without the a-hole boss). I hadn’t invested the time at my job that you did. But I got out. And got paid. And it did wonders for me and my marriage.

          1. happierNow*

            I see below you are looking to retire at 55. Point 1 still stands. 23 minutes is too long to feel like this. 13 years of this sounds unbearable.

            1. Waitingfor EarlyRetirement*

              I asked my union if there was a chance to get retroactive responsibility pay, they said yes, so I asked my Team Lead about it. It’s been 3 days and no decision on whether or not they will consider it. I think this situation was compounded by the fact that I was pressured to reduce my hours (I was willing to cut back to 4 days/week, was told “3 days or nothing”) as a way to hopefully avoid layoffs. My health isn’t good and I had thought a lot about cutting my hours but not by 40%. I took the hit (we still lost a position) my workload has increased and my boss (the chocolate bar guy) said to me “I know you can do in 3 days what others do in 5” — but they are getting paid for 5 days. Don’t cut my pay and expect me to do more work than my peers who are getting paid a lot more to do less. I’ve been a tad resentful, and I am trying to pull back so that these things don’t bother me. Thanks. :)

  15. Anon for law enforcement*

    A lot of what I would say about the drug issue has been said so I won’t repeat but re the simple point Alison makes of the management wanting the restaurant to be appealing to non-drug users – this is pretty clear. Imagine this conversation:
    “Shall we go to Wakeen’s Diner for dinner?”
    “Hell no. There are always people shooting up in the bathrooms”

    Steps to discourage that are reasonable although I agree that banning outreach is going too far and you can’t ban ambulances being called that’s dangerous.
    But management want people to come to the restaurant to eat, drink, be merry, leave a good tip, not make a mess, or endanger themselves/anyone else. Of course they do! A bathroom with someone in it injecting drugs is basically “no bathroom here” – most people are quite reasonably uncomfortable around that. And some people *cough* like me *cough* would probably be ethically bound to arrest someone for possession of illegal drugs then suddenly I’m at work not having dinner out.

    1. Bea*

      It also leads to needles in bathrooms and customers or employees being exposed to a plethora of diseases that last for life. That’s why places around here started being militant about bathrooms a decade ago.

  16. Rose*

    OP #3
    Honestly, I think I’m a pretty good person, but I’d be sorely tempted to pile work on top of work on an employee who seems mildly unhappy but otherwise does the work well and shows no sign of push back or quitting. I mean, it’d be one thing if a position had high turnover, but can you really blame the bosses/manager for doing what they’re doing? They’re asking their employees to do work, the work gets done. At the very least, let some of it not get done, especially if others are supposedly responsible. Take a vacation and let some fallout happen. Have a frank conversation with your boss telling them what you will and won’t do. Look for another job.
    I could see this as a letter from the manager: “I have a team lead who is great with clients/people and does average work and an employee under her who is a high performer but always has a negative attitude and loudly complains when I offer small tokens of appreciation for their work….”

    1. JamieS*

      Yeah I think that’s often a natural consequence of being efficient and getting work done. It sounds like OP already tried to push back and advocate for themselves re: raise and job description change with no success. So either OP is being taken advantage of or there’s a discrepancy between what OP thinks their job entails and what the employer thinks. Either way sounds like either dusting off the resume or trying to transfer to another department if applicable are the next best steps.

      1. Blue*

        Yep, it’s time to start looking. During annual review season last year, I was given a merit raise that barely covered the bump in my rent. I knew it was the most my boss could finagle, but after a completely hellish year, where more and more giant projects were piled on me while my coworker with the same title kept the same level of responsibility, it felt like a complete snub. I literally cried (alone) in my office when I saw the number, because what is the point of running yourself ragged if the only tangible reward is more work?

        I started looking after that, and in the meantime, I scaled way back – I didn’t work after 5, and I didn’t take work home with me. If it couldn’t be done in 40 hours a week, it wasn’t getting done. Fortunately, my boss was supportive of me doing that, but it was necessary for my mental health, regardless.

        1. Dr. Pepper*

          Yup, that’s how you burn out. It’s pretty much what happens in just about any aspect of life. You will be given as much as you can handle, right up to the point where you break under the weight. This is why it’s so important to say “no” judiciously. If you are accommodating and willing to run yourself ragged to get things done, well, that’s exactly what will be happening to you. People will take advantage, often not maliciously, just in a “oh yes, Jane is such a hard worker and I trust her to get this done” type way.

      2. WaitingForEarlyRetirement*

        Good point Rose, about seeing it from his perspective. Nailed it JamieS (I’m OP#3) Thee are 8 people on my team (I am the only one who was put on the project) and of the 8, two of us are high performing, always complete our work, troubleshoot, are proactive etc. The others do the bare minimum. The two get rewarded with more work, and never get appreciated (we don’t get annual reviews etc) and when we raise concerns we are dismissed. We are learning to let things blow up in their faces, but it is hard when you know that it doesn’t have to be that way. I will keep looking for another job, but with 25+ years invested, it is hard. People don’t value loyalty anymore, they think if you don’t move on there is something wrong with you.

        1. Rose*

          Oh, that info is really eye opening, I’m so sorry!

          Do you get any benefits from the job for retirement (like pension, etc?) If yes, it can be scary because you could genuinely pull back on your work and then be labeled a slacker phoning it in until they retire.

          If you don’t get any benefits from the company when you retire then who cares? Cut back to doing the minimum. I know it can be hard (I’m kindof in the same boat at the moment but am just looking for other work), but what might help is concentrating your extra time into something else you’re passionate about. For example, if you like to write, maybe find some blogging gigs online and go home and work on that instead.

          Good luck!!

          1. WaitingForEarlyRetirement*

            (OP#3 here) Oh yes good drug benefits, and pension. I will be able to retire at 55 because I started working when I was a teenager. I like the work I do, just not the environment I have to work in. I have been trying to cut back and do just what the others do…and I swear I am never taking a project on again – they can write me up for insubordination first!

    2. Fish Microwaver*

      As someone who works without complaint however much is put on my plate, and who does it quickly and well. I can relate to feeling peeved at being rewarded with ever more work and no recognition. When I first started managing my team, it was tempting to dump higher, more difficult workloads on those who would do it well but I remembered the feeling and shared the work around.

      1. media monkey*

        +1. this was me in OldJob. when i left, my boss said “we’ll need to break up this set of accounts as they are awful. We’ll never find anyone else to take them on” (but clearly it was fine for me to handle them). and then to complain about the ability of the person (one level up from me, at the seniority level that my boss wouldn’t give to me as he said i wasn’t capable) who took over some of my responsibilities. “she can’t do half of what you used to do, media monkey”. grrr.

      2. WaitingForEarlyRetirement*

        Good for you Fish Microwaver.

        I’m OP#3 – and appreciate that I am not the only one who has felt this way. It sucks that people take advantage of a good work ethic. Time to pull back and do less.

      3. Dr. Pepper*

        Honestly I fell into that trap too as a manager. I would put more responsibilities onto the team members who I knew would do it right and not give me any shit about it. I realized what was happening when I asked my top performer to do an extra thing and she just sighed sadly. At first I was like “Come on, you’re great at this!” and then I was like “ohhhh, and you’re great at this, this, this, and this that I’ve already asked you to do……” So I had to suck it up and deal with the less productive and more abrasive team members who were not pulling their weight, which was my fault at the end of the day.

    3. Person of Interest*

      Look at it another way: if you graciously accept the appreciation, you are more likely to be able to convert that to a conversation about a raise/promotion that you deserve, as illustrated by the work on this project.

      1. WaitingForEarlyRetirement*

        sadly I work in the public sector, so a raise/promotion is not possible; I could have been given responsibility pay, but they chose not to.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      While I can see the hypothetical letter, if your high performer has asked you to rewrite their job description and give them a title and salary in line with their increased responsibilities, and you say no way and instead offer them cheesecake, that’s more than a little tone-deaf. Like the letters from companies where morale is in the toilet, and then they gave everyone branded tote bags yet morale is STILL in the toilet.

      1. WaitingForEarlyRetirement*

        OP#3 here —- you got it. Morale sucks. Minions are not listened to even when they ask for feedback it is ignored. We never get annual reviews or one-on-one meetings to find out what our personal motivation might be or what gives us job satisfaction. Tone deaf.

    5. JB (not in Houston)*

      You may be a pretty good person, but you aren’t a pretty good *manager* if you have noticed your employee is unhappy with you piling work on her but you’ve never talked to her about it. The “welp, I’ll just keep giving her more and more work until she breaks, even though I know she’s unhappy” approach is not a great one if you care about having good morale at your workplace.

      I’m not saying an unhappy employee shouldn’t talk to her boss, but a boss who is willfully ignoring an unhappy employee isn’t so great either. Plus, in the case of OP#3, she specifically said: she doesn’t get support or acknowledgement, and she HAS “repeatedly requested [her] job fact sheet be reviewed, and asked for responsibility pay (to no avail).” She’s spoken up, and she’s been ignored. The boss here is the problem, not the OP.

      1. WaitingForEarlyRetirement*

        Thanks JB. I am OP#3. I feel I have done what I can to raise the white flag, and to talk about things but it never does any good. I even said “I would like 2-3 good reasons why I shouldn’t quit this project right now” and my boss said “oh I can think of more than that” to which I replied “really? Because I can’t. I care about the unit and our clients, and that is the only reason I haven’t walked away”. He was stunned into silence, and then the next day heaped more work on me. :( But hey…. he did ask what my favourite chocolate bar was so you know…. he’s tone deaf. Luckily he likes to climb the ladder and I doubt he will stay more than 2-3 more years.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          If it was me and I could do it without getting in trouble, I’d be tempted to go around/over this guy and ask a more senior manager. Not least because someone like this should not be allowed to climb the ladder and make even more people unhappy.

  17. Kiwi*

    OP1, I’ve been a first aider for someone who had a severe epileptic fit and someone who died of a heart attack. For the first minute or so, their symptoms were identical. Ever since that, my work has a rule that if someone’s unconscious we call an ambulance immediately. Being sure about why someone’s unconscious is impossible for lay people, so we leave the diagnosis to the medics.

    You could push back on those grounds.

    1. Leagle Beagle*

      OP1: Should you go forward with your group in pushing back on your employer’s new policies, you might want to review what your state public health department or county public health department is recommending about dealing with the opioid epidemic. (Public health professionals generally recommend understanding the epidemic as being caused by the disease of addiction, not as a result of a moral failing, and also recommend medically oriented intervention.) I find that public health professionals often have very practical suggestions for dealing with these issues and providing their recommendations to your new employer may be useful in pushing back against this lets-allow-the-police-to-sort-this-out-mentality.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Oh my god, I remember reading this and it gave me nightmares.

      There is just so much wrong with it and definitely a reason why there should be an email and a phone call. I think it’s definitely important to verbally communicate with one another but this – this is just horrible.

      I’ve also wondered why no one called him after “he” rejected the offer. It seems like it was an esteemed scholarship and everyone knew he rejected it, so why didn’t someone reach out and just ask why?

  18. Maddie*

    To say Narcan has no potential side effects is wrong. It can and it does and administering improperly or in the wrong case can cause cardiac arrhythmia and seizure. I would not allow my employees to administer any medication on my property and instead to call EMS. it’s not unreasonable. And diabetic issues can look a lot like overdose issues.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Thank you. It seemed highly improbable to me that it could be completely free from potential side effects or contra-indications but I didn’t have the medical knowledge as to whether that was so or not!

    2. Liane*

      So, if you haven’t already (& it’s still in mod queue), please give us a couple reputable medical links.

      1. Alice*

        Wermeling DP. Review of naloxone safety for opioid overdose: practical considerations for new technology and expanded public access. Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety. 2015;6(1):20-31. doi:10.1177/2042098614564776.

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4308412/

        Opioid overdose and mortality have increased at an alarming rate prompting new public health initiatives to reduce drug poisoning. One initiative is to expand access to the opioid antidote naloxone. Naloxone has a long history of safe and effective use by organized healthcare systems and providers in the treatment of opioid overdose by paramedics/emergency medicine technicians, emergency medicine physicians and anesthesiologists. The safety of naloxone in a prehospital setting administered by nonhealthcare professionals has not been formally established but will likely parallel medically supervised experiences. Naloxone dose and route of administration can produce variable intensity of potential adverse reactions and opioid withdrawal symptoms: intravenous administration and higher doses produce more adverse events and more severe withdrawal symptoms in those individuals who are opioid dependent. More serious adverse reactions after naloxone administration occur rarely and may be confounded by the effects of other co-intoxicants and the effects of prolonged hypoxia. One component of the new opioid harm reduction initiative is to expand naloxone access to high-risk individuals (addicts, abusers, or patients taking high-dose or extended-release opioids for pain) and their close family or household contacts. Patients or their close contacts receive a naloxone prescription to have the medication on their person or in the home for use during an emergency. Contacts are trained on overdose recognition, rescue breathing and administration of naloxone by intramuscular injection or nasal spraying of the injection prior to the arrival of emergency medical personnel. The safety profile of naloxone in traditional medical use must be considered in this new context of outpatient prescribing, dispensing and treatment of overdose prior to paramedic arrival. New naloxone delivery products are being developed for this prehospital application of naloxone in treatment of opioid overdose and prevention of opioid-induced mortality.

        Keywords: antidote, drug-delivery systems, naloxone, opioid, overdose

    3. neeko*

      There are extremely rare side effects to narcan but has nothing to do with if the person isn’t having an overdose. And it isn’t because someone administered it wrong. Prescriptions that the public gets are nasal sprays – not the injection. These are life-saving measures against a very real epidemic we are having.

    4. A Different EMT*

      “administering improperly or in the wrong case can cause cardiac arrhythmia and seizure”

      I’d like to request a source for this, because it is not what is currently being taught to emergency responders. Anyone interested in doing some reading on their own about the possible side affects of narcan (I don’t know if I can post links here) should use search terms including “naloxone” (the generic name for narcan, which is the brand name), “arrhythmia”, “seizure”, etc. For example, the review article “Naloxone in opioid poisoning: walking the tightrope” is available free online from the the BMJ Emergency Medicine Journal.

      I’ll quote from that article, which summarizes 185 other research articles on the subject: “Seizures and arrhythmias have also been noted, but could have been caused by hypoxia, the opioids themselves, their coingestants (most notably cocaine), or pre-existing disease.” In other words, seizures and arrhythmias have been observed in overdose patients following administration of narcan, but it’s unclear whether it was caused by the narcan or by the overdose. I am unaware of any research showing that seizures and arrhythmias can be caused by the administration of narcan to patients who are not experiencing an opioid overdose. I’d be very interested to read any sources you can point us to.

    5. Tara R.*

      What would you do if the 911 operator asked if anyone had Narcan on site, one of your employees did, and she asked them to administer it?

        1. Tara R.*

          I know someone who was told to administer Narcan (to their brother) by a 911 operator, so it wasn’t a pure hypothetical, although it might be unlikely if you’re calling in a stranger overdose. Competent 911 employees want the person alive when paramedics reach them.

          1. Observer*

            I think that that’s a very different situation though – the caller clearly knew the person in need and the surrounding circumstances. That changes things significantly.

            1. Tara R.*

              Yeah. I don’t know if the key differentiator is knowing the victim or knowing the situation, because it’s very possible to be ~95% sure that the customer passed out in your washroom has overdosed (e.x. heroin needle in their arm, or their girlfriend is with them telling you what happened, or whatever).

        2. Lady Phoenix*

          Actually, the callers will instruct the callers on caring for the victim while the EMT’s are on the way. I think it can include dispensing medication.

  19. namelesscommentator*

    OP1, your letter left me really conflicted. On one hand, I believe firmly in the treatment model. I will talk for ages about daily maintenance treatment and how effective it is. And how much it proves that much of the harm of doing drugs comes from them being illegal in the first place.

    But I don’t think you guys were handling it well originally. It seems like you were trying to DIY a solution that minimized consequences by trying to be a community resource rather than a restaurant. I work in a neighborhood famous for opiate abuse, you’ve probably read news articles (you say state, rather than city, so I’m inclined to think we don’t share a neighborhood). And it’s not as bad as what you describe. You shouldn’t be dealing with ODs at work routinely enough to be carrying around Narcan — that’s //really// bad, and it doesn’t seem like you guys were appropriately acknowledging the severity of the situation until the new owners stepped in.

    The new policies all seem very normal. Of course you ban someone who shoots up in the bathroom. People doing drugs in your bathroom is not okay — just like you would ban a customer who stole, or was inappropriate towards another, you ban people who shoot up in the bathroom. (people who appear high is a different story, but again … doesn’t seem like a stretch to ban someone behaving inappropriately in your place of business).

    Unless you are trained to administer, and have a prescription for, Narcan, you probably shouldn’t be carrying it. Though if you’re far from other services, you might consider broaching that by saying “We’ve saved x number of lives with Narcan in the past year. I know we’re taking steps to reduce the number of on-site ODs, but I think we should store some to prevent a fatality”

    I would ask for clarification on the new policy – if “calling the cops” means dialing 911 or dialing the non-emergency line. If it’s the former, good, you should have been doing that all along. If the latter, push back.

    1. Marzipan*

      This is a great post and I completely agree.

      I’d also add, the people working in outreach and drug treatment programmes will have training and access to regular supervision, and part of what that will do is help them maintain appropriate boundaries in their work. Staff in a restaurant do not get those things. One of the dangers of (formally or otherwise) taking on this kind of interpersonal or community work outside of a clear professional framework is that it’s easy to gradually normalise things and to take on too much, in ways that can eventually become unsafe or unsustainable. I really admire the OP’s concern for their customers, but I agree that in this particular workplace it sounds as though they’ve become accustomed to things that probably don’t sit appropriately in the context they’re working in.

      It’s always especially tough to draw back and enforce a different set of boundaries, and the OP has my sympathy.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I think this summarizes the situation very well. The owner is trying to run a for-profit business, not a community centre and safe injection site.

      The narcan is the one area that has room for push-back , because it can immediately save lives. (I’m assuming that the ‘call the cops not the ambulance’ means ‘call 911 instead of a special call to the community response team’, which is also quite reasonable. )

      1. Mookie*

        The business is part of the community (and, luckily, some communities are beginning to realize that draconian measures and police harassment of drug users don’t solve the problem). They should be supporting community-driven programs and not undermining the push for a local and direct ambulance line. This is not their call to make. I hope they’ll be answerable to a greater authority for pushing mercenary, counterproductive policies that place everyone in the area in grave danger. Uniformed police do not need to be first- and sole-responders to medical emergencies and the act of being ill should not be criminalized.

        1. Observer*

          They are part of a community – and part of their responsibility is to provide a SAFE space for their customers. Based on the OP’s description, that was NOT happening.

          Also, not calling 911 in the case of an apparent OD was ALSO a total failure of responsibility. Not because it’s the job of staff to make sure that people get arrested, but because 911 is the fastest way to get people help and you’re always taking a risk of making a mistake.

          1. Natalie*

            Also, not calling 911 in the case of an apparent OD was ALSO a total failure of responsibility.

            There’s nothing in the letter or from the OP (that I’ve seen) that says they weren’t calling 911 – the suggestion that they weren’t is just speculation in the comments.

            1. Observer*

              The OP says that they were calling an ambulance, which by itself could go either way. But they say it was and ambulance and the street outreach people, which indicates that they were bypassing 911.

              In any case, the first part of my comment stands on its own.

        2. serenity*

          This is a pretty dramatic stance to take. This is a food-service business – not a community treatment center. I think everything in namelesscommentator’s post is accurate, safe, and reasonable.
          Being a healthcare or criminal justice reform advocate is great but probably not what small local businesses would want to get into. It’s odd that you would expect a small business (a restaurant!) to treat substance abusers and not call an ambulance.

    3. Myrin*

      This is a great comment, nameless, very compassionate yet down-to-earth!
      I had a long reply typed out but then realised that I’d essentially only repeated what you’ve said already so I’ll just reiterate that I strongly agree with every one of your points here!

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Glad I read thru the replies before adding my own, because this one says pretty much all I would have said.

      It is 100% reasonable for management to want no drug use in their establishment. I think management in LW#1’s case is swinging too far toward the “punish” side of the punishment versus harm-reduction side. But a restaurant is in the feeding business, not the treatment facility business.

      As for “don’t call an ambulance,” I’m with everybody else who is unclear as to how you’re supposed to command emergency services after you’ve called 911.

      One thing I’d add: maybe talk around with other industry folks and see what they’re doing in their restaurants/bars.

    5. Kate*

      Narcan is not OTC. If you’re carrying it you have an Rx for it (unless someone has given you theirs). My city’s health commissioner has issued a standing order for all residents for narcan so any one can get it by prescription at the pharmacy

        1. axolawltl*

          make sense because there’s ads all over public transit here telling people they should carry it and help people.

      1. doreen*

        We might be in the same city- but while a standing order from the health commissioner doesn’t actually make it OTC, ( it still will have a prescription label, and at least in my city , the health commissioner will be listed as the prescriber) from the purchaser’s point of view, it might as well be OTC. They don’t need to get a written prescription from a doctor, the dispensing protocol associated with the standing order may be very broad ( the eligible candidates in my city include anyone who requests it and it can be dispensed to minors)

    6. Izzy*

      This is a great comment. As well as the points you raise here, I’d add that from an employee safety point of view the previous conditions sound pretty terrible and some of these measures sound as though they’re as much for the safety of the staff as to improve business. (The ambulance policy, however, is terrible and badly thought through.)

      Although I think the LW is obviously very well-intentioned, they absolutely should not be treating a workplace that is a routine site of intravenous drug use as normal or safe. (Another commenter above has already raised the potential for abandoned needles, for example – this is as much a danger to staff as it is to customers.) Similarly, it is not safe for untrained wait staff to routinely be getting up close and personal with OD-ing drug users – this is something that medics are trained to do and another reason that it’s so important to clarify the ambulance policy.

    7. Manders*

      This is a good response!

      I’m one of those people who’s confused by the “no ambulance” rule (in my area, you get what you get when you call emergency services, and police response times are so slow that demanding police officers is sometimes not effective even for violent crimes) but I also understand why a business would want to discourage people from shooting up on its property. OP, I know that from your perspective this looks like a moral issue, but it might help if you reframed the situation a bit in your mind. Restaurants aren’t public services and it sounds like this situation has gotten very far outside the realm of what’s normal for a private business to deal with on a daily basis.

    8. Tragically Llama*

      Unless you are trained to administer, and have a prescription for, Narcan, you probably shouldn’t be carrying it.

      Naloxone doesn’t require a prescription in many (most?) places, and public health officials strongly encourage people at higher risk of witnessing an overdose to carry it. If you click on my name, you’ll see an example in my province; if you’re at risk and you go into a pharmacy, they’ll quickly show you how to use it and provide a free kit. My friends who have gotten it have described the training as pretty much “Spray it in their nose”.

  20. anon ^_^*

    OP2 – I’ve received offers via both phone and email, and honestly I don’t mind either way as long provided it’s a clear offer. Also if I don’t answer (which would be common for those currently working and not answering personal calls!) be sure to leave a clear message or follow up via email.

    The one thing I wish employers didn’t do was phone call *rejections*. The last 3 job interviews where I wasn’t offered the role after the last interview have called, which is really really awkward. “Hi, this is X from Y company, I’m calling about the job you interviewed for..” is a great way to quickly get my hopes up only to have them ripped away just as fast. Of course I handle it professionally in the moment, but it’s incredibly stressful to remain composed, properly ask for feedback, etc. While I definitely appreciate hearing back after an interview rather than ghosting, I much prefer to get a rejection via email. Either I’ve been very unlucky recently, or hiring practices have drastically changed in Australia in the past couple of years!

  21. MakesThings*

    #4
    I was never big on people displaying their diplomas. Unless you’re in a profession where that’s routinely done (doctors, dentists), just skip it. It always looks like you’re trying too hard if you’re putting your PhD in Literature on the wall. People who get to know you will realize you have a PhD from your conversations.

    1. 2 Years until Retirement*

      I have mine on my wall.
      As a librarian in a research organization full of PhD staff, having them know I have a masters degree in library and information science as well as an undergrad degree in engineering and am a registered professional engineer is a huge boost to winning their trust.

    2. OP4*

      OP #4 here! In many cases, I agree with you. My previous job was in a small office (less than 10 people) with minimal client interaction in the office. I was there for years and never considered displaying my diplomas, for the reasons you listed. However, in my current job it’s common and encouraged. It sets a nice example for our students (many of whom will be the first in their family to attend college), and gives them some ideas of where different degrees can take you. It’s also helpful with prospective families, who like that the people teaching their children have advanced degrees and value education. In this case, it’s not that I want to display them to make sure everyone knows where I went to school, but more that it contributes to the school culture we’re building.

      1. Gloucesterina*

        Hi OP4–the school you’re at sounds awesome! I happen to be “first gen,” and as a young person I always enjoyed poring over school materials, including reading the lists of degrees and institutions after my high school and college teachers’ names. I also remember being weirdly fascinated by surnames that were hyphenated or people with two last names, since I had never encountered those naming practices in my family of origin.

        Now I am completing a PhD, and my son’s surname is hyphenated, so take from that what you will :)

        I’m not sure if I will display my diplomas if/when I get a job but this is good food for thought.

      2. MakesThings*

        Thanks for the context! It does sound like you’re in a good position to display the degrees. Hope you find a good solution that works.

      3. Silicon Valley Girl*

        I changed my first name about 10 years after graduating from college, & my big, public university had no problem reissuing my diploma with my new name. Just had to file a form. So Alison’s advice is spot-on — enquire at your institution, it may be no big deal.

        1. Turanga Leela*

          Yes, definitely ask. My small college would not reissue my diploma with my new name, so I think it’s a school-by-school issue. (It might also be a case-by-case issue. I suspect my school might have approached it differently if, for example, I had changed my name as part of a gender transition—they tend to be sympathetic to that kind of situation.)

          OP, if the school won’t change your name on the diploma, maybe you could display a photograph, plaque, or banner from the school rather than the diploma? Or even a photo of you at graduation? That would indicate your connection to the school without causing confusion about your name.

      4. CoveredInBees*

        When you get the diploma reissued under your married last name, they might be open to including your middle name or at least your middle initial, which most people will pick up on. Seeing Monica F. Gellar or Monica Falula Gellar would be sufficiently clear. Best of luck, Falula!

  22. Selphie Trabia*

    I would be terrible and say something like “My favourite chocolate bar is a Godiva 72% single origin bar – Ecuador for preference.”
    But I’m terrible and have crazy expensive taste in chocolate.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Oooh, I’d say “It isn’t sold in the U.S. If I’d been given the responsibility pay I was eligible for, I could afford a vacation to X and buy it. Guess that isn’t going to happen.”

      (No, I wouldn’t say that. But I wish I would.)

  23. CorruptedbyCoffee*

    There are a few points to the conversation here, some of which have been addressed and some of which haven’t.
    First, some background: I work in an incredibly heroin heavy area and regularly (daily) deal with a wide range of individuals on a variety of substances. I think I have all the local police officers’ business cards, and the local emts are on a first name basis with many I deal with. Many in my industry carry narcan, and theres been a lot of internal debate about whether I and my coworkers should be carrying it.

    First, narcan is not a magical cureall. Not only can narcan have side effects, it is very common for people dosed with it to come out swinging. Think about it: they’ve just shot up, desperate for the high and all of a sudden you’re taking that away. In addition, they’re probably disoriented, and giving them narcan can actuallysend them into instant withdrawl. And there you are, leaning over them. My mother is a critical care nurse, and the first thing she said when I told her they were considering us carrying narcan was “be very careful. When we administer it people get violent.” The business may want to think about what would happen if one of their employees is injured while attempting to administer narcan.

    Second, narcan is not very effective treating fentanyl. Fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than standard heroin, and is fast becoming more popular than heroin. In fact, it is often added to other street drugs now, including heroin. You need multiple narcan doses to even try to treat fentanyl, which increases the chances of triggeringwithdrawal, and the chance that you’ll be administering the medicine when they come to.

    These days, most police and emts carry narcan, and I have found it safer to get them there immediately and let them administer it, in case I’m wrong and they’re not overdosing and need medical attention, or in case they took a cocktail of drugs (very, very likely) and your narcan only reverses the heroin and not the other drugs causing an OD.

    As for calling 911: I have called 911 so. Many. Times. For drug overdoses and health and wellness checks. The 911 operator doesn’t care what you ask for. if they hear the words “unresponsive” or even “hes probably on something” they’re going to send an ambulance. If the guy is beligerant, they might send some police, too.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        Having had my jaw dislocated when I gave Narcan to my ODing cousin, yeah. You reversing a buzz that cost $300, unhappy is the understatement.

        Narcan and stand the hell out of the way of swinging limbs.

        1. CorruptedbyCoffee*

          We had a guy the other day who had obviously just shot up. He may have taken other drugs to, but we came into contact afterwards, when he fell out of his chair onto the stranger next to him. He was out pretty cold, breathing but thready, and would not or could not respond to questions with anything other than mumbled gibberish. The moment he didn’t get up after falling, I had someone call 911 and we tried to get him on his side, so if he threw up he wouldn’t choke on his own vomit. We ended up with an EMT crew and a police officer. They managed to get him sitting up.

          You know what he started mumbling when the emts tried to see if he was okay? He told us he was going to fight them. Because people keep hassling him. We spent 10 minutes convincing a disoriented guy who outweighs me by 100 lb with extensive gang tattoos not to try to beat up the EMTs in front of the police.

          I dont know about you, but I’m not anxious to administer narcan to him. I dont care if he comes out swinging because hes angry, or because hes disoriented, or because of lack of oxygen. If he stops breathing we’ll get out the aed. But I’m going to get the paramedics and possibly the police there and let them administer the narcan.

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      Perfect response.
      We have had many of the same issues and concerns and all our research says the same thing – narcan is not a cure-all, it has dangers for the person getting it and giving it, the safest thing for an ill or overdosing person is for others to call 911, officers are trained to use narcan (though maybe not where the OP is),etc.

      Only thing I will add is that even a tiny amount of some drugs on the person or on surfaces in the bathroom can be enough to kill a person so we do not touch the person, have blue gloves (not as porous as the other kinds) in case we do touch them, and our maintenance staff have had special training on cleaning the bathrooms which they follow at all times.

      We are basically a govt agency, public building, not in any way connected to drug or social services.

    2. feminazgul*

      They’re not attacking because you “took away” their high. They’re attacking because they’re disoriented and full of adrenaline.

      1. Lehigh*

        Some of each, probably. When I worked at a hospital we had a guy who came back *days later* with a knife looking for the people who gave him Narcan.

        1. Natalie*

          That’s obviously a much different situation that someone who was unconscious seconds ago and was just administered narcan. Anyone who has ever been unconscious before can probably testify that you’re not forming a lot of specific opinions.

  24. Akcipitrokulo*

    Am I reading OP1 correctly that they have been banned from calling an ambulance if required? Surely that isn’t legal (I know virtually anything is legal as long as not discriminatory in work, but on its own, can you prevent someone making an emergency call for medical assistance?)