MEDFORD, Ore. — Heroin overdoses in Oregon are increasing. During the critical few minutes after an overdose emergency responders have a rarely used drug that can actually save the person’s life.
Mercy Flights says when it responds to overdoses, paramedics can reverse the narcotic effects using a drug called narcan. Narcan is a drug that only works on narcotics.
The drug basically reverses the effects of an overdose by helping the depressed respiratory system. Mercy flights says when they respond to a patient that’s overdosing on a narcotic drug they never know how much that person has used. So, they gradually administer the drug.
The fastest way to give a patient narcan is through IV. Other methods include through the nose, into the bone or muscles. Mercy flights says the goal is to not wake the person up, but to just get their respiratory rate up. They say the patient can experience withdrawals from narcan.
“When we give narcan we’re taking all of that pain control away. So, we run the risk of putting their body into a withdrawal state because they’re used to getting a certain amount of narcotics all the time, and we take that away,” said Mercy Flights Supervisor Rodney Blake.
Mercy Flights says patients can wake up and get violent, angry or vomit. Mercy Flights equips every paramedic with narcan. Paramedics say, the sooner someone calls 9-1-1 if someone happens to overdose, the better their chances of surviving.