Prescription Makes Survival More Likely For Heroin Overdoses

Aug 24, 2015

Fort Wayne Fire Chief Eric Lahey talks about the uses for nalaxone.
Credit Lisa Ryan, WBOI News

Nalaxone, also known as Narcan, is a prescription drug that can save a person’s life if they are overdosing on opiates like heroin. A bill passed this year by the Indiana General Assembly allows first responders in Indiana to use the drug.

The Fort Wayne Fire Department and EMS have used Narcan on more than 100 overdose patients.

  Rick Machinski is a firefighter at Station 7 in Fort Wayne. He administered Narcan a week ago and thinks it helped save the person’s life.

“(It) feels pretty good. I don’t know if that person would have had a second chance without it,” Machinski said. “I’m glad we have this ability to do this now.”

Before the law was passed, Narcan was used in IV form. Now, firefighters can use a nasal spray, which is available on all fire trucks in Fort Wayne.

Assistant Fire Chief Doug Call says it can immediately save a person’s life.

“So I can have an individual that goes from a respiratory rate of two or three a minute, sometimes just agonal respiration where they can be on their last breath,” Call said. “Once we administer the Narcan, it has a very fast turnaround time.”

The Fort Wayne fire chief says Narcan has been used on overdose patients four times just over the last 10 days, including once this weekend.