Opioids and First Responders

Answering the call

Opioids and First Responders follows the lives of three first
responders who are fighting every day on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic. Three people who not only work to stem the tide, but whose personal lives have been impacted by the very thing they work tirelessly to stop… overdoses.

Right from the first frame, the clock starts ticking. Each day equals lives lost—or saved. Filmed in cinéma vérité, the viewer is brought into the room where every minute
counts. Shifting between rage and triumph, despair and joy, we are drawn in, pulled by the raw power of grief and hope. The film opens with a series of survivor telling their overdose stories to camera:

As the film unfolds, Opioids and First Responders ​ focuses on three individual first responders, their family, and co-workers. We learn why they do this often heartbreaking work day in and day out, and in some cases their personal loss to opioids, who they lost, how it happened, and what that tragedy left in its wake. We also experience their work; a firefighter, a paramedic, and an emergency medical technician (EMT). Their daily effort to save lives is a constant battle, and we
witness first-hand what that struggle looks like in the trenches…and what it costs. Interwoven with expert commentary, the film searches for meaning in this epidemic. How did we get here? And how do we dig ourselves out? Who is doing the hard, often unappreciated, daily work of pulling people back to life? 


  • PBS, WXXI 2020



  • Emmy nomination for Editting 2021


  • American Public Television (APT)