Use of Narcan Spreads Throughout New York State
In May 2014, firefighters in Buffalo became the latest first responders department in the state of New York to introduce the drug Narcan to its kit for saving lives. The drug is used to save the lives of those suffering from an opiate overdose. In a report on The Buffalo News website, the city’s Mayor, Byron W. Brown, announced that “All of the city’s firefighters recently completed the required training in administering the drug, which will be carried on all the Buffalo Fire Department’s first response apparatus”, going on to say that although the obvious aim is to rid the streets of Buffalo of drugs, firefighters and police officers are also there to save lives. The introduction of the drug to firefighters’ kit follows its introduction to Buffalo’s police department in February 2014. The drug has been carried by first response professionals in nearby Amherst since December 2013.
What is Narcan?
In science terms, Narcan, also known as Naloxone, the RxList website identifies the drug as being used for “complete or partial reversal of opioid depression, including respiratory depression, induced by natural and synthetic opioids” and also “for diagnosis of suspected or known acute opioid overdosage.” Narcan can be given intravenously, intramusculary or subcutaneously. Russell Barbera has said that it is “a prescription drug used to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose”, but points out that it can also be used to reverse the effects of other opiates. Rebecca Vogt explains that the drug prevents “opioids from reaching receptors in the brain and nervous system that would normally suppress breathing” and explains that in Buffalo, firefighters will be administering the drug via a two dose nasal spray, with one dose administered in each nostril. The Gates-Chili Post reports that the training take three hours for each officer to undertake, and permits them to teach other in the administration of Narcan.
Narcotics use in the state of New York.
The timing of introducing Narcan to first response officers might be appropriate. J. David Goodman recently reported that “Roughly 35 percent of heroin seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration nationwide since October was confiscated by agents in New York State”, and that previously, “the state has accounted for about one-fifth of heroin seizures nationwide.” Goodman also states that the level of heroin coming into New York City is at its highest for two decades. In light of the New York heroin epidemic, Dave Lucas reports that officials from the national drug control policy is planning to meet with New York State Police and local governments “to help create the first-ever heroin tracking database.” The database will “identify patterns, crack down on heroin rings across county lines, target resources to high crime areas, determine which drugs are more sought after, and pinpoint necessary security changes in drug distribution networks.” Between the creation of this database, and first response officers being trained and equipped with a life saving drug, it appears the state of New York’s battle with heroin is very much alive.
For residents of New York state who might be concerned about friends or family using heroin, or any other narcotics, it may be comforting to know that there are plenty of resources available throughout the state that can provide the help, support and advice needed to successfully treat those suffering from addiction. One such resource is Treatment 4 Addiction, which “includes information on inpatient facilities and drug detoxification centers, as well as aftercare options such as sober living homes and outpatient programs.” In Amherst, the Sisters of Charity Hospital has its own drug rehabilitation department, which provides outpatient counselling and prescription drug treatment programmes.
Although it has only just been introduced in Buffalo, Rebecca Vogt reports that Narcan has already been used in the field by firefighters. According to Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield, the first time the drug was used, the casualty had regained consciousness within five minutes and was brought to hospital. Between the introduction of Narcan and the creation of a state-wide database on drug distribution, it’s clear that federal authorities are aware of the rising heroin trade in New York state, and are undertaking steps to counteract this. One can only hope that positive results from these efforts will be seen sooner rather than later.