Paramedics Give Overdose Victims Second Chance At Life

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Central Ohioans have heard a lot about the tide of illegal drugs flooding the area.  

One of the worst, most highly addicting, is heroin. It's now flowing into the suburbs.

But paramedics are saving a startling number of overdose victims with a quick injection of their own.  In July alone, they saved an average of five lives each day.

Drug raids across the county find what law enforcement officers have come to expect a flood of black tar heroin from Mexico. And, they are seeing the impact first-hand, especially in the suburbs.

Late in June, Grandview Heights police responded to a frantic 911 call on West First Avenue. A young man had overdosed, and police say they found black tar heroin his pocket.

Officer Zac Scurlock suspected that his heart had stopped and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

"Ended up doing that for about a minute, at which time he took a very large gasp, and he came to. And then, probably maybe a minute later, medics arrived and gave him Narcan," Scurlock said.

Narcan is a kind of wonder drug that area medics use to interrupt the effects of opiates.

Capt. Anthony Brooks of the Columbus Fire Department says it competes for the same receptor in the brain.

"What that does is, it stops the effect of heroin," said Brooks.

The paramedics inject Narcan either through an I.V. or through the nose.

"It's pretty dramatic.  Usually we'll give it, and within 30 seconds to a minute like I said, they're up and around," Brooks said.  "I would say daily we're saving at least one life, if not ten, with Narcan."

He said they averaged five lives saved a day during the month of July.

Scurlock said while it's great to save lives this way, he is worried that the need for all this Narcan means an epidemic of heroin.

"If you try it one time, most likely you're going to be hooked. That's the scary part about it.  You just never know," he said.

Scurlock added that the young man whose life he saved is now in a drug treatment program out of state.