Ambulance attendance at heroin overdose in Melbourne: The establishment of a database of Ambulance Service records

Paul M. Dietze, Stefan Cvetkovski, Greg Rumbold, Peter Miller

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44 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents some of the preliminary data extracted from a database of non-fatal heroin overdoses attended by ambulances in metropolitan Melbourne. The database has been developed in order to provide interested parties with reliable, high quality and timely data on heroin-related harm. Heroin overdose victims were defined as those people who were unconscious at the time the ambulance arrived and subsequently responded positively to the administration of naloxone. There were 388 heroin overdoses attended by ambulances in Melbourne over the period 1 November 1997-31 January 1998. The majority of victims were male (74 %) with an estimated mean age of 27.1 years. The overdoses occurred most commonly during the afternoon and evening, with Thursdays and Fridays most prominent. Police attendance was low (12%) and the vast majority of victims were not transported to hospital. An analysis by postcode revealed that the overdoses tended to be concentrated around a number of locations which have identified street heroin markets. The findings are discussed in relation to the utility of the data as an indicator of heroin-related harm within the community and for informing overdose prevention initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-33
Number of pages7
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2000
Externally publishedYes

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