In the last six months, 14 police, fire and EMS agencies in Franklin County have saved the lives of 139 people who had overdosed on opiate-related drugs, thanks to the administration of Narcan.
During that same time period more than 200 first responders have been trained to use and are carrying the life-saving medication, which counteracts and reverses the effects of opioids.
The training was conducted by medical doctors and was given to first responders in coverage areas of the Multi-County Narcotics and Violent Crimes Enforcement Unit, including Franklin, Washington and Lincoln counties.
Jason Grellner, Public Safety and Communications manager for Mercy Hospital Washington, explained the doses of Narcan are being paid for through drug forfeiture funds seized by the Multi-County Narcotics Task Force and supplemented by the county prosecuting attorney’s office.
“Each dose of Narcan costs $37.50,” Grellner said. “The task force has provided $10,000 and another $2,000 came from the prosecutor.”
The total cost for the 139 doses delivered by Franklin County first responders comes to just over $5,200.
The Narcan carried by first responders is usually a 4 milligram dose administered as a nasal spray.
Half the dose, or 2 milligrams goes into each nostril.
The patients usually respond to the Narcan about five minutes after they receive it, but still require EMS care even after the effects of the overdose subside.
Since the program began in April, Union EMS tops all county emergency agencies with 33 doses administered.
Meramec EMS has given 30 doses, St. Clair EMS, 29, and Gerald EMS, three.
Washington EMS has administered the drug to 15 overdose patients.
Thus far, New Haven EMS has not used Narcan and Sullivan EMS has not reported its statistics.
Ambulance personnel at Lincoln County EMS have used Narcan 45 times between April and October.
Washington County EMS has administered 13 doses of the drug.
Although most EMS agencies already carried the anti-overdose medication, the current program provides doses of the drug to be carried by fire departments and individual law enforcement officers, who are usually the first person to have contact with a suspected drug user.
The highest concentration of police uses in Franklin County is Washington police, who have administered Narcan eight times since April, which is double the doses of Union, Pacific and St. Clair.
Pacific and Union police officers have used Narcan four times each.
St. Clair police and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department have used Narcan three times each and the narcotics task force has administered the drug once.
In many cases, especially in rural areas, fire departments are dispatched with EMS for overdose calls to assist with manpower and response times.
Since this program began, three Franklin County fire departments have given five doses of Narcan to patients.
Boles fire district is highest, with three doses, Beaufort-Leslie has given it twice and Pacific fire has used the drug one time.
Outside Franklin County, the Lincoln County and Washington County Fire districts report two Narcan administrations.
Grellner explained in 2017, the number of opioid-related deaths nationwide will rise to more than 100,000, making opiate overdoses the leading cause of death of Americans under age 50.
In the past eight years, it’s estimated 350,000 to 400,000 people have died in the U.S. from opioid abuse.