Local first responders use NARCAN to save lives

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Terre Haute EMS technicians said Naloxone, also know as Narcan, is important for them to have on hand.

“It allows us to reverse the effects of opiate medications or even the illicit opiate medications such as heroin and fentanyl,” said Robert Eberhardt, Terre Haute Fire assistant director of EMS training.

According to Eberhardt, the medication is used on patients who are overdosing.

“The medication basically stops the opiates from slowing the patient’s respiratory rate and then it basically allows them to wake back up,” he said.

Eberhardt said the Terre Haute area saw a spike in Narcan use in 2017. They administered the medication around 125 times to 80 patients. He added that there have been times when they’ve had to administer more than one dose to a patient to get them to wake back up.

In 2019, EMS technicians have seen a decline in patients needed the medication, but drug doses have become stronger. They said they’ve given out the medication 44 times for 30 patients.

According to Eberhardt, although the patient number is going down, Narcan use is still on the rise.

Within the last three to four years, fire and police crews have been supplied with Narcan.

Ryan Adamson of Terre Haute Police said every officer is trained on how to use it, but not every officer has it.

“It’s given out like an AED is. So of a shift, we may have four or five containers,” he said.

Adamson added that those who do have the medication, do their best to respond to overdose cases as quickly as possible.

“If there’s an overdose, those officers, barring being on something big, are going to try to make it to that call,” he said.

According to Terre Haute EMS, they’ve seen that narcan use has not had any correlation with any socioeconomic or racial demographic and that opioid use is affecting all ages and racial groups.

The EMS department has a budget for medical supplies, which includes Narcan, so they do not use tax funds to pay for the medication.

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