There's no doubt about it. Narcan is a life saver.
But a Sheriff in Ohio is making headlines over his refusal to use it. He's concerned the overdose antidote will put his deputies' safety at risk, saying he won't allow them to carry Narcan because the people they revive could become violent.
Most officers in the Triad are trained to carry it, some departments even administer it on a regular basis. Captain Tara Tucker with Forsyth County EMS says their paramedics usually get multiple overdose calls a day.
"It's a daily occurrence here in Forsyth County," she says.
Colin Miller of Winston-Salem used to face addiction; now he's the co-founder and director of Twin City Harm Reduction Collective. The agency works to help others struggling with addiction through services like a syringe exchange.
He's woken up from an overdose before.
"Okay I'm high. I'm kind of nodding in and out and all of a sudden you wake up and there's people over you," he recalls. "With me it was paramedics quite a few times or first responders of some sort and they're standing over you and it's really confusing."
Miller says he's been revived by Narcan about half a dozen times and he's grateful for every opportunity.
He's in recovery now as he works to help others in Forsyth County. All first responders there carry Narcan and will use it whenever they need to.
"We do feel it's something we can do for the community to save a life," Captain Tucker says.
She says it typically takes a person 2-8 minutes to wake up once Narcan is in their system.
Sometimes the person can get violent, but it depends on the person and how the narcan is administered.
She says all first responders go through crisis training to help deal with that.
"Part of that is teaching them deescalation skills and verbal deescalation so how you work with somebody as they're coming out of that."
From Miller's perspective, it might not be about violence at all.
"It's you get high, you close your eyes, you wake up dope sick."
Once a person receives Narcan it reverses the effects of drugs they took, bringing the person down, helping them to start breathing again. It also launches them right into withdrawal.
"It's really very crippling," Miller says.
He gets the first responder side of this, too. They need to be safe. But when it's a matter of life or death.
"it's not any of our jobs to play God," Miller says. "It's very cut and dry for me. Narcan saves lives."
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