Eric Miller, a police officer from the Narberth Police Department, said emergency responders like himself and medics Chas Carlson and Ian Stoddart have been “screaming at the top of our lungs, ‘We have a problem,'” for 10 years.
The men explained the medical side of an overdose — like how opioid attacks the cells and stops a person from breathing — and how Narcan can help by “bumping” the opioid off the cell.
Miller said he lost a young man to an overdose before Narcan was available for use. He looked like he was having a heart attack, he remembered.
“We would have saved him now,” he said. “It bothers me to this day that we didn’t have that chance.”
Carlson and Stoddart said although they can usually save people from overdoses using Narcan, it’s often difficult to get them to go to the hospital after they come to. Typically the Narcan makes them feel so much better than they simply get angry that the medics ruined their high or they just want to get away from them. However, the medics said it’s important to get people who just overdoes to the hospital in order to monitor them, because the Narcan wears off faster than the heroin.
The men also discussed the important of education. Most people don’t know that good samaritan laws exist to prevent people from being arrested if they call 911 when someone around them overdoses. Many overdose deaths occur because the people the victim is with are too afraid they’ll be arrested if they call for help.
They also stressed the importance of moving away from opioids as prescription pain killers. Stoddart’s son became addicted to opioids after he was prescribed percocet for broken ribs as a student at Temple.
On recovery, Stoddart borrowed a line from his son: “Just make it to midnight.”