Franklin County deputies saved two lives Tuesday — within minutes of each other — by administering Narcan during suspected heroin overdoses.
That is the first time the life-saving drug has been used since deputies began carrying the drug earlier this year.
According to Sheriff Steve Pelton, deputies responded at 8:25 a.m. to a home in the 1600 block of the North Service Road outside St. Clair for the report of a suspected heroin overdose.
The 57-year-old man from St. Clair had been found by a family member.
Deputies administered the nasal Narcan spray and the man quickly recovered, authorities said.
At 8:28 a.m. deputies responded to the 3000 block of Old Highway 100 outside of Washington for another suspected heroin overdose.
When they arrived on the scene, deputies were directed to the basement of the home where a 21-year-old Washington man overdosed on suspected heroin, Pelton said.
The man recovered after the Narcan was used. He had been located by his father who called 911.
Both men were transported by EMS for treatment at a local hospital.
“These deputies did an outstanding job and contributed to saving two lives,” Pelton said.
He added that the The Multi-County Violent Crimes and Narcotics Enforcement Unit is investigating the overdoses.
Deputies have been training to use Narcan since January.
It has become increasingly important for officers to be trained in the use of Narcan due to the rise in fentanyl-laced heroin.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is hundreds of times stronger than heroin.
An even more potent opioid, carfentanil, was confiscated in the St. Louis metro area in April.
Narcan has become more readily available, which has prevented many more fatal overdose cases. Narcan is available over the counter in Missouri. It is a nasal spray that is administered in each nostril during an overdose.
Once officers are trained they are given two doses of Narcan to carry on their uniforms.
According to Pelton, in rural areas there are times that officers can be on the scene of an overdose before an ambulance crew, which already is equipped with Narcan.
That means that law enforcement officers also can help save a life following an overdose.
Need for Narcan
It is more important than ever that officers have access to Narcan due to the increasing use of heroin, Pelton said.
During 2016, the task force investigated 56 overdose cases, including 26 that resulted in deaths and 30 nonfatal overdoses.
That doesn’t include cases handled by municipal police agencies that weren’t reported to the task force.
In all, there were 300 investigations last year involving heroin.
Officials said dealers are more frequently adding fentanyl to heroin to boost the potency, but because of the much greater strength, it’s the cause of many fatal overdoses.
Carfentanil is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent that fentanyl. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin.
Heroin can be laced with the synthetic opioids to make it more powerful, but dealers and buyers underestimate the potency of the drugs. Oftentimes, drug users in Franklin County purchase heroin in St. Louis and surrounding areas.
According to the DEA, the dosage of fentanyl is a microgram, one millionth of a gram – similar to just a few granules of table salt. Fentanyl can be lethal and is deadly at very low doses. Fentanyl and its related compounds come in several forms, including powder, blotter paper, tablets and spray.