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Life-saving opioid overdose reversal medication available to parents, spouses, friends
NARCAN is not only for first responders

Prescott Valley Police officers stand by as Central Arizona Fire & Medical Authority personnel treat a car’s passenger who officials say suffered a drug overdose Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, in the drive-thru of a fast food restaurant. The 29-year-old man had stopped breathing but was treated and revived with NARCAN, a life-saving opioid overdose reversal medication. (Richard Haddad/Courier)

Prescott Valley Police officers stand by as Central Arizona Fire & Medical Authority personnel treat a car’s passenger who officials say suffered a drug overdose Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, in the drive-thru of a fast food restaurant. The 29-year-old man had stopped breathing but was treated and revived with NARCAN, a life-saving opioid overdose reversal medication. (Richard Haddad/Courier)

While waiting in a fast food drive-thru lane with a friend Tuesday night, a 29-year-old man stopped breathing from an apparent drug overdose. A single dose of NARCAN given by first responders gave him back the breath of life.

The incident happened Sept. 1 in Prescott Valley, but similar rescues and revivals play out year-round throughout Yavapai County. Each day, four Arizonans die from opioid overdoses; which includes prescription opioids such as Percocet, tramadol, and morphine to illegal opioids like heroin and fentanyl.

NARCAN (naloxone HCl) is a life-saving opioid overdose reversal medication used by first responders and healthcare workers. But you don’t have to be a police officer or firefighter to carry NARCAN. It’s also available to parents, husbands, wives, girlfriends and anyone who thinks they might need it to save a loved one.

“Each person can play a role in combating this drug epidemic that spans all generations. Carrying this medication and knowing how to respond is one way to make a difference and possibly save a life,” Yavapai County Community Health Services (YCCHS) spokesperson Terri Farneti said in a news release earlier this year. “Communities with access to NARCAN see a 50% decrease in the number of fatal overdoses.”

Yavapai County Public Health Worker Melissa Garcia told the Courier this week that NARCAN is available free through YCCHS.

“We have a grant managed by Arizona Department of Health Services that allows us to provide NARCAN to individuals that request it,” Garcia said. “It’s a life-saving medication and there are laws that protect people in carrying it and administering it. It’s 93% effective and there are no serious side effects when administered.”

Garcia explained that the high prevalence of fentanyl — often laced and hidden in other drugs — is a compelling reason to carry NARCAN.

“We never know who is at risk of an overdose. It could be someone who’s been struggling for a long time with substance abuse disorder, or a teenager experimenting for the first time,” Garcia said. “It’s better to have it and never need it than to need it and not have it.”

For example, in February, Prescott Valley Police officers responded to a report of a teenager who had overdosed on fentanyl. The officers encountered an unconscious 17-year-old boy in the backseat of a vehicle in the parking lot of a convenience store. Officers and firefighters began life-saving measures and administered NARCAN to the teen. What could have been a fatal moment in a young life was reversed because first responders carried NARCAN.

“The fact that our officers carry NARCAN and deploy it in a timely fashion has absolutely saved lives,” said Traces Gordon, Support Services supervisor for the Prescott Valley Police Department. “It’s a miracle drug. I would strongly encourage any family members who are concerned about a loved one who might be using drugs to have it readily available.”

OBTAINING NARCAN & TRAINING

Along with providing NARCAN to residents, YCCHS also offers a free recovery support and overdose prevention and response training session. The session includes training community members on the signs and symptoms of overdose, the immediate actions people should take to get responders to the scene, and the steps to stabilize and potentially revive an individual who has overdosed.

The training class is continuously offered online to anyone who requests it. Due to the pandemic, live training can be conducted via video conferencing or telephone, but other options are also available.

“We can get creative and meet people safely in a park or open space so that we can physically distance and still provide the training for anyone that would prefer in-person instruction,” Garcia said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s morning, evening or the middle of the night. We want to be able to meet people where they are at, and provide this training for anyone who is interested — someone who it struggling themselves, or if they are living with someone they are worried about — just anyone. Sometimes we have people who just want to be supportive community members and make a positive difference in their community. They might be the right person in the right place at the right time to save a life.”

Garcia said YCCHS prefers that people requesting NARCAN who don’t work in rescue or health industries first go through the training, or at least give their staff time to talk to them to make certain they have a baseline knowledge of carrying and using this medication.

To request this training or to obtain a NARCAN kit, contact Garcia at 928-442-5966.

MATForce also has NARCAN kits obtained through YCCHS for distribution and available on request. Call the Prescott Valley office at 928-708-0100.

COMING UP

YCCHS will be holding a Recovery Day event from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 19, at the PUSD offices at Washington School, 300 E. Gurley St., Prescott. CDC-recommended social distancing and sanitizing measures will be in effect. Presentations will include talks by people in recovery, speakers from support organizations, resources from local recovery and behavioral health homes, and free HIV and Hepatitis C testing. NARCAN will also be available for distribution during the event.

MATForce will host a webinar from 10 to 11 a.m. on Oct. 13 titled, “Overdose, Prevention, Recognition and Response.” The presentation will include a discussion by a local firefighter/paramedic about recognizing an overdose and how to reverse the fatal effects with NARCAN. Watch matforce.org for information.

Learn more by searching the Courier campaign, #StopFentanylNow

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