Narcan getting new attention with heroin resurgence

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – New attention is on a medication in light of a recent heroin resurgence.

“It is an amazing drug,” Tippecanoe County EMS director Darrell Clase said.

It may be an amazing drug helping counteract side effects from dangerous drugs. Naloxone, maybe better known by its brand name Narcan, can help reverse the side effects of an overdose from opioid-based drugs like heroin.

“Narcan is really unique from the stand point that it does work on the opioid based drugs and it will reverse the effects of that medication,” Clase said. “With that hopefully the blood pressure gets back to normal, the respiratory drive naturally kicks back in.”

Clase said Narcan has been available since the 1960s. Paramedics in the county have had it for several decades. However, it may be getting new attention as heroin use rises.

Clase said in 2013, paramedics administered Narcan 148 times. So far this year, that number is 52.

“It has gone up a little bit, but then again we have seen a pretty significant resurgence of heroin use in the last couple years,” Clase said. “They kind of simultaneously go together.”

An expansion to the Lifeline Law signed into law last month allows all first responders to carry Narcan including police officers. Some departments in the state are teaching their officers how to use the drug. That isn’t happening quite yet in Tippecanoe County.

“It’s a little early to tell at this point how exactly we are going to proceed with it, but we are watching it,” Lafayette Police Chief Patrick Flannelly said. “The uptick in the number of heroin overdoses and the opioid overdoses is very alarming.”

This month, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officers were trained on how to use Narcan. West Lafayette and Lafayette Police Departments and the Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Office chose not to train their officers just yet.

“EMS can be somewhat of a territorial group,” Clase said. “We’ve got the training and we’re the ones who know how to treat the patient, and so on. I think at the end of the day it doesn’t matter if it’s fire, law enforcement or EMS we’re all here to act in the best interest of the patient.”

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