Hoping to save lives

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Often, drug overdoses involve a combination of drugs, such as a deadly mix of opiates and alcohol. But Reynolds said that administering Narcan can be enough to save a life in such instances.

In Suffolk County, a recent initiative brought Narcan to some police cars, which typically arrive at emergencies more quickly than ambulances. The County Legislature has voted to request that the Suffolk County Police Department carry Narcan in all of its cars. “When you make the call, our first responders have Narcan in the sector cars, and they can save the life,” said Kara Hahn, a Suffolk County legislator who spearheaded the initiative.

According to Reynolds, the stigma and potential liability that come with discussions of drug use have kept Narcan out of the school. No district on Long Island carries Narcan kits. “When we talked about prevention education on Long Island, the schools initially were very reluctant to have prevention programs,” he said.

Because of a lack of discussion about drugs, Reynolds said, there are many misconceptions about overdoses. They kill because they slow brain activity and respiration — but most people are unaware that it takes an average of one to three hours to die of an overdose, leaving plenty of time to administer Narcan or call police.

Four parents who have lost family members to drug overdoses attended the press conference. One of them, a man who identified himself only as Ira, said he had lost a nephew, David. At the time of his overdose, Ira said, David was with “an acquaintance.” But instead of calling police, the acquaintance left, and David was found dead the next morning.

“I wonder, if 911 Good Samaritan had been known and understood to that young man,” Ira said, “whether my nephew would be here today.”

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