Fighting Opioid overdoses on the front lines

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Nearly 100 people a day are dying from opioid overdoses, it’s part of a growing issue that West Virginia is in the center of.  

A call goes out on the radio. Lights, sirens mark a paramedics response.

Frank Ferrari, EMT Harrison Co. Emergency Squad said, “There’s used needles, there could be evidence of track marks on their arms.  They don’t just shoot up on their arms, their eyelids, in-between your fingers, they are very resourceful.  Once you used all of your veins up you have to think creative to get the drugs into your system because that’s how bad the addiction really is.”

In the past year the opioid related deaths have risen nearly 13 percent.  Now that crisis is causing emergency squads to carry double the overdose drug known as Narcan.

“The state protocol says we have to carry two of these two milligram syringes of Narcan for check off.  We carry four in our trucks,” said Ferrari. 

Harrison County Emergency Squad let us ride with them, showing us exclusive access into what it takes to fight opioid head on.

Stephen McIntire, Asst. Chief Harrison Co. Emergency Squad said, “In 2015 there was 131 doses that were administered. In 2016 there was 223, almost double of the amount.”

The county’s medical vending machines track the number of times EMS and fire departments deploy Narcan in Harrison county. To date in 2017, Harrison County administered 139 doses of Narcan.

McIntire said, “Right now we are in a downward trend and we are very thankful for that.  We just got done with a fairly high, the summer time was huge. There was a bad batch that came through and a lot of people were overdosing.  The batch was cut with Fentaynl.”                                              

Even though it’s been around since 1971, the price of Narcan continues to rise.

“In the past three years we have expended $14,300 worth of Narcan out for combating this. It’s not a cheap war.  Not to mention the man hours, the calls that are sent to other places because we are dealing with the narcotic over doses,” explained McIntire.   

But EMT’s know it is worth it.

He added, “It’s somebody’s son, it’s somebody’s daughter you’re trying to do the best that you can. We don’t want this in our community. We are trying to do everything we can to rid the community of this.”

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