Heroin has been thrust back into the spotlight with the untimely death of well-known actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Now one activist wants all first responders to carry a lifesaving drug in Western New York. A shot of Naloxone or Narcan can reverse a heroin or other opiate overdose.
Colleen Babcock teaches a 20-minute, free course at Horizon Health Services in Buffalo about how to administer the drug and recognize an overdose. She says someone might be snoring or look like they’re sleeping when they overdose on heroin.
“You put the needle in the top then just draw the fluid up,” she said. “You don’t recognize an overdose. It happens over a one- to three-hour period.”
The shot starts working in two- to five-minutes, helps someone breath again and gives doctors a 30- to 90-minute window to save someone’s life.
In about the past six months, Horizon Health Services has trained around 385 people in Western New York how to use this lifesaving shot.
Recovering heroin addict “Jimmy,” who’s been clean for eight months, told News 4 a shot of Narcan once saved his life.
“I started to ‘nod out’ they call it, fall asleep, and my buddy gave me a shot of Narcan, which he keeps on hand,” Jimmy said.
Local activist Avi Israel wants all first responders, such as police and firefighters, to be trained and carry Narcan. Right now only paramedics carry it. But sometimes they aren’t the first ones to arrive on scene.
“This is a lifesaver. I don’t give a damn if this is going to cost $100 or $1. Who is going to put a cost on the human life?” Israel said.
Babcock says the shot costs less than $10.
It’s not clear if the shot could have saved the four local people who recently died of drug overdoses or actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, but Long Island Police trained to carry the drug reversed more than 100 overdoses and saved dozens of lives in the past two years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Narcan reversed more than 10,000 drug overdoses between 1996 and 2010.
If you’re interested in learning more about Narcan, call Horizon Health Services at 833-3622.