Narcan two years later: Still saving SCV lives

Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital emergency medicine attending physician Darrin Privett demonstrates how anti-overdose drug Narcan is administered on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Proving just how necessary Narcan has become in saving the lives of SCV heroin addicts, local sheriff’s deputies dispatched Thursday for an unresponsive man feared dead in the bathroom of a Stevenson Ranch restaurant watched signs of life return to the man after paramedics administered the drug.

At 11:40 a.m., first responders were called to the McDonald’s Restaurant on Chiquella Lane, near Lyons Avenue, for reports of a man found slumped over and unresponsive in the restroom.

Deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station and paramedics with the Los Angeles
County Fire Department got to the restaurant within three minutes.

A manager with the restaurant was there to greet them. When he was asked if the man was dead or alive, the manager replied: “Seriously, I don’t know.”

“We responded to McDonald’s around that time for an unresponsive male in the bathroom,” said Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriff’s Station.

One of the responding deputies, confirming it was a drug overdose, said: “When firefighters got him, he didn’t look too good,” noting one of the paramedics administered Narcan.

The man was taken to the hospital at 12:15 p.m., Fire Department spokeswoman Melinda Choi said.

Within about a half-hour of the emergency call, the situation was resolved and a life saved.

Two years ago, Narcan was introduced in a public ceremony as the latest weapon in the arsenal of deputies battling a growing opioid problem in the SCV. 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.

It was a response to a rash of overdose cases witnessed in the SCV. During a 72-hour period in April 2017, eight overdose patients turned up at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. One person died.

After Capt. Robert Lewis of the SCV Sheriff’s Station officially unveiled Narcan, 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.

In a check with the captain on Monday on how Narcan is holding up two years later, Lewis said the number of lethal overdoses has been dropping.

“There were nine ODs this year,” he said, referring to overdose deaths. “Last year we had 14.”

“I want the number to be at zero,” he said.

Lt. Ignacio Somoano, who heads the station’s Detective Section, also reflected on the effectiveness of the drug, noting: “We use Narcan to bring them back to life.”

Somoano cited a traffic collision just last month in which the driver overdosed while driving.  Narcan was administered in that case and the driver regained consciousness.

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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