INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 9, 2014) - The Wayne Township Fire Department is getting a new, life saving tool.
Soon, the entire department will be trained in administering Narcan, a powerful drug that quickly reverses the effects of an opiate drug overdose.
Captain Mike Pruitt, with the Wayne Township Fire Department, says he's witnessed firsthand the incredible results Narcan can provide.
“We’ve arrived on the scene to find the person lifeless," describes Pruitt. "The Narcan was administered, and with supportive respiratory efforts from our personnel, within a couple minutes that person was responding to us and talking to us.”
Shane Hardwick, Wayne Township EMS Director, says paramedics have been using Narcan for years, but recent changes to state law now allow other first responders to carry and administer the drug as well.
"We’re going to get more people to the medication they need faster. We have four ambulances where we average about a 6:20 response time to get a paramedic and ambulance at your front door, but if we can get a fire engine there with an equipped EMT to address this faster, we want to do it," says Hardwick. "We want to give these people every chance that we can to ensure their survival.”
Hardwick says the number of local opiate overdoses has skyrocketed in recent years.
“It is becoming something that we see on a daily basis. It is an epidemic," says Hardwick. “Citywide in January 2011 we gave out 30 doses of Narcan, citywide. We’re seeing that just in Wayne Township on a monthly basis now.”
Pruitt agrees, saying, "I’ve personally got to experience that increase of these overdoses, so any time that we’re bringing a new tool to the streets that's going to make our job easier and save lives, it’s something we have to jump behind and get it out there as quick as we can.”
There are about 200 people associated with the Wayne Township Fire Department, and Pruitt says they'll all be trained in administering the drug. Narcan will then be carried on all department vehicles and kept at department facilities.
“Within a week or so we should be up and running completely, to where any one of our personnel in the department can make that difference in someone’s life," says Pruitt.
First responders will be using the nasal mist version of Narcan, although there are several forms of the drug available. The nasal mist is sprayed into a person's nostrils and then absorbed into the blood stream. Hardwick says it won't come with a big price tag either.
“This is something that we budget for every year," says Hardwick. "This does not in any way affect or cost us any more than what we are already paying for our Narcan I.V. This is just a different route.”