Current Fellows
Addiction & Overdose

Simon Taxel

Bloomberg Fellow

Simon Taxel is a Paramedic Crew Chief and Public Safety Diver with the Pittsburgh Bureau of EMS. Throughout his work as an EMS clinician, he has been at the forefront of preventable death, disability, and communicable disease associated with addiction and the use of illicit drugs. In this field, Taxel provides compassionate care and advocacy for patients that experience overdose, suffer the ill effects of a poisoned drug supply, and experience problematic substance use. He also works to influence peers and colleagues by writing for trade journals and speaking at EMS industry conferences about substance use, harm reduction, systemic racism, and drug policy. Taxel earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in environmental studies and biology from Allegheny college in 2006 and his paramedic credentials from the Community College of Allegheny County in 2008.

The Pittsburgh Bureau of EMS, founded in 1975, is a 3rd service municipal agency that provides emergency medical, technical rescue, and river rescue services to the citizens and visitors of the City of Pittsburgh. Historically, the organization has been at the cutting edge of prehospital care. This is clearly exemplified in the addiction, overdose, and harm reduction space. In 2017, responding to the rapidly increasing number of overdoses throughout the community, it was the first EMS agency in Pennsylvania to provide low barrier access to medication for at risk people and their families by establishing a leave behind naloxone program. In 2021, the organization became the first EMS agency in the Commonwealth and the third in the United States to provide prehospital buprenorphine induction. Additional harm reduction measures employed by Pittsburgh EMS include dispensing fentanyl test strips, warm hand off to addiction treatment, a hepatitis A vaccine pilot project, and the distribution of educational information.

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