179 4 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It's a growing problem in our state. So much so, MEDIC is taking action.

"Over the past five years-plus, we have seen an increase in heroin use," said Deputy Director Barry Bagwell.

With deaths from heroin and opioid overdoses continuing to climb, the decision was made for Charlotte firefighters to carry "Narcan", the drug that can revive someone from an overdose.

"Our first responders respond in a timely manner, sometimes only a matter of minutes ahead of MEDIC, but in some cases a minute or two minutes can make a difference," Bagwell said, "Especially with cardiac arrest."

If the firefighter arrives on scene first, they'll administer the Narcan. Then, once paramedics arrive, they'll take over the patient's care. Each firefighter went through a training program this summer, and once the supplies arrive, they'll carry the kit with them when they respond to emergency calls.

Education Quality Specialist Sam Barnes showed us how it works.

"We place it in the nostril and we're going to administer one milligram in each, and that's all it is," Barnes said.

Seems simple enough, because the patient will be unconscious when the firefighter arrives.

"Within about two to five minutes you'll see a response," Barnes said.

What about the concerns that when the person wakes up they'll be aggressive and violent?

"That is a good possibility," Barnes said.

"That's because the Narcan brings a user down from their high immediately. The goal is to only administer enough to bring their breathing functions back. Too much and the person who wakes up could wake up in a fury, potentially already going through withdrawal."

"We never know what to expect when they wake up," Barnes said.

The crews at MEDIC are trained and prepared for whatever type of patient they may run into, as are the Charlotte firefighters. Getting Narcan in the hands of more first responders could mean keeping more patients alive.

Medic says they expect the Charlotte Fire Department to have the supplies they need by the end of September.

They're working on training the rest of Mecklenburg County's fire departments on how to administer the Narcan.

179 4 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://on.wfmy.com/1rLACyO