State opens access to heroin & opioid antidote - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

State opens access to heroin & opioid antidote

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Narcan is new to the Erie County Sheriff's Office, but the small tool has already been put to good use.   The Erie County Health Department distributed naloxone, commercially known as Narcan, to sheriff deputies two weeks ago.  Just a few days later, sheriff deputy Daniel Vladiff was spraying the heroin and opioid antidote into a man's nose on an emergency call.  The effects were immediate.

"It was kind of like turning on a light switch," says deputy Vladiff.  "He was alert, he was feeling good enough that he didn't want to be transported to the hospital. But obviously he was."

The drug is nothing new, but is now in new hands.  Governor Kasich signed a bill earlier this year that now allows law enforcement and regular citizens who get a prescription from doctors or health professionals to administer the life saving drug.  The bill grants immunity from criminal liability for the person administering the drug, but law enforcement says the person who has overdosed could still face charges.

"It doesn't mean we won't file the appropriate criminal charges that may come along with that," says Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth.  "We're not the judge, we're not the jury but we'll let that process take its course."

Citizens must call 911 before or after giving the antidote and anyone who receives it needs to get medical attention shortly afterwards.

Toledo Fire and Rescue crews carry the lifesaving drug in all their ambulances.  Last year they responded to nearly 375 overdose calls, many of them related to heroin or opioids.  Narcan gives the firefighters, who are also certified EMT's, about 45 minutes to get the person to the hospital.

"We've used it over 20 years successfully to reverse the effects of opioid use," says Lt.. Matthew Hertzfeld with the Toledo Fire and Rescue Department.  "Heroin depending on its strength can last anywhere from one and a half hours to seven hours and someone can have a relapse.  I can tell you we've definitely been able to save lives with this."

Other police departments within Erie county and across the state want to get Narcal and get their officers trained.  The medical antidote is a vital tool when minutes mean the difference between life and death.

"I would recommend it for any law enforcement agency in the county," says deputy Vladiff.

"We're in the business of saving lives, so this is another tool we can use to achieve that goal," says Sheriff Sigsworth.

To find out more information about the newly passed bill, visit http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/bills.cfm?ID=130_HB_170 .

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