UPDATED 5/30/2018 6:30 A.M. with information about Puckett EMS.
May 29, 2018 – Someone called 911 Saturday, May 26, at 1:26 p.m., to report a 44-year-old man was unconscious and in trouble. When Sequatchie County Deputy Shannon Lang arrived, he quickly realized the man was suffering a drug overdose.
“He administered the first dose of Narcan,” Detective Paul Howard recounted Tuesday.
Then he started administering CPR.
“After several minutes, the subject's condition improved, but he was still not awake. He administered a second dose of Narcan.”
The man was transported to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga and reportedly survived. This was the first life saved by the Sequatchie County Sheriff's Department's recent stock of Narcan, or Naloxone, now carried in every patrol car of both the county Sheriff's Department and the Dunlap Police Department.
Puckett EMS already had equipped each of its vehicles with Narcan, and provided training in its use, according to Will Pitt, director of operations for Tennessee and North Georgia.
Giving a second dose of the antidote is standard procedure if the overdose victim is slow to revive.
“It's very benign,” Det. Howard explained. “It binds to the opiate receptacles and blocks the opiates.”
A grant through the Hamilton County Coalition recently supplied Narcan nasal spray for the law enforcement departments in several counties in southeast Tennessee, including Sequatchie.
“This is the first officer since we received the Narcan that's administered it,” Howard said. “They also provided training in its use.”
As a nasal spray, the effects of the inhalant are almost immediate.
“The inside of the nose is very vascular,” Howard said. “It absorbs really quickly.”
The abuse of opioid drugs has become epidemic in the United States. Someone who takes too strong a dose, or goes back to the same dose after drying out in jail or rehab, can suffer a deadly overdose. In this case, officers suspect it was Oxycodone, but there are several other drugs on the streets that derive from opium.
According to an investigative report by The Nation, “Between the beginning of February 2015 and the end of January 2016, an estimated 52,898 Americans died from a drug overdose, many from opioids like Oxycontin, heroin and, most alarmingly, from the extremely potent synthetic opioid fentanyl.”
Even though the overdose antidote is not cheap – total cost of the Narcan distributed to the Sequatchie County Sheriff's Department is around $5,000 – the department had been planning to buy it for themselves, because it saves lives.
“We were actually looking at buying some right before we got the grant,” Det. Jody Lockhart said. “We were within a couple of weeks of ordering it when this came through.”