UTICA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Narcan, a drug commonly used to counteract an opioid overdose, will now be “left behind” when the Utica Fire Department responds to an overdose call.
The COVID-19 pandemic may be dominating headlines, but the opioid epidemic is still present across much of the United States and locally in Central New York.
Through the Narcan Leave Behind program, the Utica Fire Department will have kits equipped with 4mg of Narcan nasal spray, instructions for administering the spray, and contact information for opioid addiction services in Oneida County that they can leave with the patient.
Utica Fire Chief Scott Ingersoll said, “One of the options that this kit gives us now is to leave behind an additional kit for this person if they are with somebody else that they could use the kit. We would always encourage them to utilize the 911 system, but there’s sometimes that they’re not going to use that 911 system, and at least attempt to fix the problem themselves.”
Ingersoll said many overdoses the fire department sees involve someone at the residence who is capable of calling 911, but sometimes they don’t call out of fear. The Narcan kit will at least allow the person who is not overdosing to be able to save the person whose life may be in danger.
“The immediate goal of this program right now is to really just prevent the accidental deaths associated with opioid overdoses,” Ingersoll said. “The impacts that that has on families, it can impact any family, any person, it knows no demographics when it comes to that.”
The county knows Narcan can’t prevent someone from overdosing, but it can save lives. The Narcan kit that is left behind also comes with information to help people prevent future drug use and potential overdoses.
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. said, “Narcan is not designed to be a preventative, it’s designed to be the savior in that regard, and then we have to make sure other measures are taking place in terms of rehab, in terms of other education and prevention models that come into play.”
The Utica Fire chief says they have already responded to several hundred overdose calls this year, and he hopes the Narcan kits will provide potentially life-saving materials. For anyone wanting a kit, the Narcan kits are available at any of the local fire stations in Utica.
“If someone stops by the firehouse, one of the local firehouses, and asks for a kit, we give them a kit no questions asked,” Ingersoll said. “One of the things we really want to do is encourage people to seek treatment and seek help, and this is just one of those avenues to push them into that direction.”
Oneida County Executive Picente hopes giving this information to people who may have overdosed shortly after their incident will really help them get on the right track.
“We need to get as much information to those family members who are struggling with it, as well as those individuals themselves that for one reason or another have fallen into that pattern of abuse. As we can provide this immediate information upon instances, hopefully, it doesn’t happen again,” Picente said.