Narcan a year later: Large percentage of addicts saved

Deputies receive training on administering Narcan. photo courtesy of the SCV Sheriff's Station.
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Deputies administering Narcan revived the unconscious victim of an opioid drug overdose Saturday, one year after a phalanx of civic leaders, first responders and physicians joined in the grand unveiling of the anti-overdose drug.

Saturday’s incident, officials said, was not an isolated incident and, if anything, Narcan has delivered on its promise to save the lives of opioid overdose victims.

Reflecting on the first full year Narcan was put into use by deputies of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, a leading local authority of drug addiction said the drug’s effectiveness carries with it good news and bad news.

“Sadly, we’ve come to a point where we have to depend on things like Narcan,” said Cary Quashen, executive director of the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Behavioral Health Unit and director of Action Family Counseling.

“But, fortunately, we have a drug that saves lives,” Quashen added.

“When we look at the number of people we have addicted to opioids, half of them have experienced an overdose, and a large percentage of them have had to use Narcan to save their lives,” he said.

Asked if the story posted on the SCV Sheriff’s Station’s Facebook page of Saturday’s opioid overdose was a unique case, Quashen said “no.” The case, he said, is a typical one.

“An SCV sheriff’s deputy used Narcan to save a man’s life,” SCV Sheriff’s spokeswoman Shirley Miller wrote in the post.

Sheriff rescue

“About 12:50 a.m. Saturday, July 7, deputies responded to an emergent call for service at a Valencia residence for an unconscious man suffering from an apparent opioid overdose,” she wrote.

“Deputies assessed the man, and began administering the nasal spray naloxone, also commonly known as Narcan,” she said.

“After two doses of Narcan and rescue breaths, the man, in his 20’s, regained consciousness a short time later, and was transported to a local hospital for medical treatment,” Miller wrote.

He is reported to be doing well.

It was late June last year, when civic leaders, sheriff’s deputies and doctors stood shoulder-to-shoulder against the nationwide opioid epidemic and unveiled the use of a medical tool promising to help stop overdose deaths and prevent heroin and opioids from devastating the Santa Clarita Valley.

What prompted the joint effort supporting the drug was a rash of overdose cases the month prior.

After the unveiling, each of the 240 sworn personnel at the SCV Sheriff’s Station were trained in the use of and equipped with the anti-overdose drug Narcan.

Relying on Narcan

Quashen said he fears opioid addicts will rely on Narcan to rescue them from an overdose.

“You’re flirting with death,” he said. “And, if you flirt with death, it’s going to get you. I sure hope the people out there are not counting on that.”

Like the rescue witnessed Saturday, others “have been found in their room, getting high alone and overdosing,” he said.

Family members found them, Quashen said, referring to at least two cases he has encountered in the last couple of months.

“They (family members) do CPR until the first responders come and used Narcan and saved their lives.

“There is not always going to be someone around with that drug,” Quashen said of Narcan.

A year ago, on the day Narcan was unveiled on the steps of the SCV Sheriff’s Station, Dr. Darrin Privett of Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital explained how Narcan saves lives.

He referred to it as an “opioid antagonist,” which he said “competes with opioids in the body, making that opioid ineffective.”

Privett stressed the importance for anyone finding a person unconscious due to an overdose to make sure the victim is getting oxygen.

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