UPDATE: First responders equipped with anti-overdose drug Narcan in response to fentanyl deaths

First responders equipped with anti-overdose drug NARCAN
Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 10:59 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2022 at 10:36 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Many local first responders have been equipped with the anti-overdose drug Narcan.

Our WCTV reporter Michelle Roberts talked to agencies in Leon County about the use of Narcan, and it’s often used to save overdose victims.

If someone is having an opioid overdose, their respiratory drive is suppressed and Narcan reverses that.

Narcan is on all Leon County ambulances and other response vehicles.

Data from the county shows over the last 12 months, Leon County paramedics have responded to 313 incidents where Narcan was used.

Leon County EMS units have been equipped with the drug for nearly 20 years - since 2004.

Leon County EMS said they haven’t seen an uptick in opioid overdose deaths in Leon County at this time, despite what happened in Gadsden County, but they are asking the public to be aware and only take drugs that have been prescribed for you.

QUINCY, Fla. (WCTV) - In response to a rash of deadly overdoses believed to be caused by fentanyl, the Quincy Police Department has started training officers on how to administer a potentially life-saving medicine.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, the department said in the next two weeks it will train all of its officers to administer Narcan to people who have overdosed on opioids.

Narcan, generically known as naloxone, rapidly reverses an opioid overdose by blocking receptors in the brain.

Many law enforcement agencies have equipped members with the medicine for years, including the Florida Highway Patrol.

The training comes after at least eight people died and 10 others have been hospitalized from apparent fentanyl overdoses in Gadsden County in the first five days of July. Investigators with the sheriff’s office believe recreational drugs including marijuana and cocaine were laced with high levels of fentanyl, a powerful painkiller.

“Fentanyl can be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, just a small dose is deadly,” said police spokesperson Leroy Smith. “Someone who has had the training for Narcan, or is in possession of Narcan, can not only save the victim’s life, but an officer or a K-9 dog.”

Smith told WCTV that training started on Wednesday and he expects all the officers to be fully trained within two weeks.

“It’s got to stop,” said Quincy Mayor Keith Dowdell. “Too many people are losing their lives, and it’s not worth it.”

Mayor Dowdell said his friend is currently in the hospital fighting for his life because of an overdose.

“It just hurts so much to see him laying there,” said Dowdell. “I see it as a mission. I got to do something.”

Quincy police also reiterated a commitment to investigating the source of the deadly drugs in collaboration with other Gadsden County communities, the sheriff’s office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

“To the families of these victims, we are very sorry for your loss. They are not just another statistic, not just another number. Those we lost have faces and names,” said Smith.

Other Quincy leaders, including the city manager and the mayor, said solving the crisis will take the entire community working together.

“Please tell your loved ones and friends about this dangerous and potent drug that has found its way into this community,” said Smith.

Officers of the Gretna Police Department will also be trained on how to administer Narcan to people experiencing an opioid overdose.

Smith said Quincy is working with other area law enforcement agencies to find out where the drugs are coming from and who is responsible. QPD has not yet reported any arrests related to the recent string of overdose deaths, but Smith said they are following leads.

QUINCY, Fla. (WCTV) - The Quincy Police Department and the City of Quincy held a joint press conference at noon Wednesday to address the spike in overdose deaths in the area.

The Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office said on Tuesday eight people died of suspected drug overdoses in July, and another eight people were hospitalized.

Preliminary findings show the deaths happened because drugs like marijuana and cocaine were laced with fentanyl, investigators say. On Saturday, the Drug Enforcement Administration released a statement saying the situation may be mass fentanyl poisoning.

Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young says the DEA thinks a different type of fentanyl was brought to the area.

“They tell me it’s a thousand times more potent than just regular fentanyl. So we think it hit here in Gadsden County and that’s why we had such an influx, and overdoses and deaths all at once,” Young said.

The sheriff’s office responded to more than a dozen calls related to drug overdoses on Friday night alone.

Copyright 2022 WCTV. All rights reserved.