Lawmaker: First responders need to carry overdose drug

Photo of naloxone
A kit with naloxone, also known by its brand name Narcan,(AP Photo/Mel Evans)

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – It’s being called a miracle drug: just a few days ago deputies with the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department in Ohio used a drug called Narcan when someone found a man slumped over his steering wheel after he overdosed.  Narcan reverses opioid related overdoses and ended up saving that person’s life.  You may recall last month, Indiana’s law was changed: changed to allow all first responders including police officers and fire crews to carry that drug without having any liability.

Well that got us wondering: Which first responders in our area carry it with them? You might be surprised to know Three Rivers Ambulance Authority, also known as TRAA, is one of the few that carries the drug Narcan.  With heroin and prescription drug abuse on the rise this has one legislator here in Indiana wanting to take things a step further.

“It is somewhat of a miracle drug. It is really unfortunate we find ourselves in positions where we need this type of miracle,” (R) State Rep. Jud McMillen said.

Drug abuse and drug related deaths are higher than ever before.  And with no end in sight legislators like State Representative Jud McMillen backed the Lifeline law which gives all first responders in Indiana the right to learn how to use and carry Narcan.  It can be given using a syringe or a nasal spray.

NewsChannel 15 uncovered many law enforcement agencies and many firefighters in our area don’t know how to use or carry it with them.

“I’m shocked to hear that.  If people like that are not carrying it at all and it is something that is needed then that certainly pushes us in the direction of mandating it.”

TRAA paramedics say they’ve had Narcan for years.  In fact last year they used it 140 times.

“It is an amazing drug,” TRAA spokesperson Mike Gillespie said.

TRAA spokesperson Mike Gillespie told NewsChannel 15 over the phone if legislators mandate all first responders to carry it that would help out more rural, small communities where they have limited EMS service.

“It would probably be a good thing to carry and very advantageous for that patient. In our particular situation here in Fort Wayne, we don’t see a huge need for that because we are there so quickly. We are on scene so quickly.”

At the end of the day, Gillespie says Narcan shouldn’t be an excuse to allow drug abuse.

“We don’t want it to create a warm fuzzy feeling that it will be okay because a lot of time what happens with these situations is that people just basically fall into such a deep sleep that their body doesn’t want to breath anymore. The biggest thing is someone has to call for them or there has to be help on the way for anybody to do any good.”

Representative McMillen tells NewsChannel 15 lawmakers will be working to get that mandated soon.  If it becomes law, first responders would have to go through training before they can use Narcan.

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