Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Magic Bullet?

Naloxone aka Narcan

Hollywood movies and television aside, the chances of full recovery for a patient who suddenly drops due to heart failure and receives CPR from a bystander are pretty low.

But the chances of an individual who stops breathing due to heroin reaction fully recovering after a bystander administers Narcan is astonishingly high.

CPR is a skill that must be learned and practiced so therefore is more prone to misapplication due to situational stage fright, or just being rusty from a lack of practice. Narcan is easy to administer, just a simply squirt up the nostrils, and takes effect immediately.

Because of the "opiate epidemic" in our state Governor Patrick recently declared a "state of emergency" directing the Department of Public Health to make Narcan more widely available to all first responders and friends and family members of drug abusers.

In Amherst, since AFD professional firefighters are all either Paramedics or intermediate EMTs, Narcan has been available for a very long time.

Although Assistant Chief Don McKay points out the price has almost doubled in the past year, and drug companies are having a hard time keeping up with demand.

A 4 milligram bottle (providing two doses) now costs $171.  And of course that was before the Governor's order, which will dramatically increase demand.

The main impact of loosening the restrictions to get Narcan in the hands of first responders could be felt at 111 Main Street, the Amherst Police Department.  Since police are constantly on patrol they are almost always the first to arrive to emergency situations.  So equipping them with this vital life saver is only common sense.

Unfortunately Governor Patrick has been vague about providing money for training and stocking a supply of the expensive drug.

According to Amherst police Captain Jennifer Gundersen:

"We are currently discussing this internally and how we would pay for both the training and NARCAN, both being expensive.Given that both our FY14 and FY15 budgets are already set, without either state or an additional appropriation of local funding, we would not be able to do this in the near future given fiscal constraints."

In New York every state and local law enforcement officer will have access to Narcan via a new $5 million program funded by assets seized from drug dealers. Talk about justice!

And while Amherst is somewhat insulated from life's realities, the nightmare of drug abuse death does happen.

Twenty years ago 17-year-old Ozzy Klate, a promising ARHS senior, succumbed to a heroin overdose.

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Walter Graff said...

We have to work harder to stop heroin distribution. Legalizing gateway drugs such as marijuana do not help the cause. Neither does teenage boredom which is considered a chief concern in more rural areas like Amherst where the drug is taking off. And then of course there is the price which is now cheap and dealers handing samples out for free. That will hook you quick.

Anonymous said...

Can't they just send the person they just saved the bill. Only a few hundred bucks to save a life.

Or just add it to the town's budget, surely more important than x-mas lights, high school secretaries, and banners on pleasant st.

There now we only have a banner funding issue and we can pay for people on death's door without debating it.

Anonymous said...

It's almost as addictive as writing inane comments on this blog, amirite Walter? You're hooked on the thrill of annoying people with your unobservant diatribes.

Shouldn't I pay you to hate me? said...

"You're hooked on the thrill of annoying people with your unobservant diatribes."

I can't speak for Walter but I myself would simply ~LOVVVVVE~ if I could allow you to control my every thought and action.

I could become your very own funny little puppet.



Take me,


Anonymous said...

I agree with Wally. What do you say we go nuke any country that grows poppy plants and then enslave the people there to grow something wholesome. What do you think Wally will that solve the distribution problem? Then we could go after all those gateway drugs, say like aspirin. Wally, stick to picking on the schools will ya. Sheesh!!!!!

The Juggernaut said...

Promising people don't overdose.

Not even the rowdy UMass kids use Heroin, it is the stuff of low lifes. I am all for saving their life, but they should cough up the cash for it later. ODing isn't an act of God by any means.

Anonymous said...

Every EMS person I know would gladly volunteer some of his/her own time to attend a training session on something that he or she really wants to be trained on, and I'll bet between themselves, their friends and the local business community, the cops could find the money to put a $200/$300 item in every APD vehicle (including their "tank") if they really wanted to.

If they really thought (and could make the case) that the community's well-being depended upon this, it'd happen. Amherst is a small town, these officers are known individuals, and there are enough folk with the ability to ask what the officer personally thinks.

But an EEG-Zapper to save the life of the upstanding citizen with 3 kids who's having a heart attack versus saving the life of some druggie who has finally managed to overdose on Heroin, ummm.....

And they have EEG-Zappers on the fire trucks now, don't they? Enough said?