FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The city’s heroin problem is “astronomical,” Fort Wayne Fire Chief Eric Eric Lahey said at a press conference at Fire Station 7 Monday morning. Chief Lahey along with other city leaders announced two new initiatives that could save lives.
Firefighters will now have access to a medicine that helps people suffering from a drug overdose. The city says it could save lives. All Fort Wayne Fire Department vehicles will now carry Narcan. The city also announced Monday fire trucks would also be equipped with metronomes, which will help in delivering quality CPR.
Narcan is an opiate antagonist that helps with the survival rate of heroin overdose victims, according to the city. Using Narcan could result in faster administration to patients in need of the medication.
“They’re often the first responders on the scene. The sooner they can get that Narcan in the system the better off that person is,” Capt. Kevin Hunter with FWPD’s Vice and Narcotics department told Newschannel 15 last week. Hunter talked about Narcan helping in emergency situations as he spoke about the new Allen County Opiate Task Force, which aims to help addicts get help.
Officials said Monday that from Jan. 1 to Aug. 3, emergency crews have responded to 115 overdose patients in need of Narcan. In the last 10 days, Fire Station 7 alone has responded to two overdose cases where Narcan was administered. Two other stations have also responded to overdoses.
“In the four patients we’ve had, we’ve been able to get that number down to about a minute and a half,” Chief Lahey added. “It’s our mission to save lives in the city of Fort Wayne. I can’t think of a better way to do that than to have this drug and be able to distribute that drug and make sure that people have a second chance in order to enjoy their life or get their life back on track.”
The city has seen a large increase in heroin seizures every year for the last seven years. Police have said one reason given for that spike is that people addicted to prescription pain killers switch to heroin when their medications run out.
Monday, officials from the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health and the Fort Wayne Fire Department joined with Mayor Tom Henry to announce the initiatives designed to enhance health and public safety in the city.
“Our community’s commitment to health and public safety is evident by the public and private sectors coming together to say we must continue to advance our City to be the best,” Henry said in a statement.
The Fort Wayne Fire Department used to use a metronome app on cell phones. However, as Chief Lahey explains, having the metronomes can save responders life-saving seconds. Sweetwater donated 40 metronomes to the Fort Wayne Fire Department.
“Our firefighters were using their phones, so there were metronome apps that they were using on their phones,” said Lahey. “We had an opportunity there because we know some people at Sweetwater. So, we reached out to them to see if they wanted to partner with us to help us get our hands on some metronomes. They jumped on the chance. I can’t thank (Sweetwater founder Chuck) Surack enough for what he’s done here. It’s a couple hundred dollars worth of equipment that is very simple and technology that’s going to have a huge impact in saving lives.”