Archive for August, 2019

Overdose and Narcan. What would you do?

August 22nd, 2019 No comments

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Last week, while my husband Mike walked our little shih tzu, a car pulled in about 2 spaces over from our truck.  I watched while a young mother got her beautiful baby out of the back seat and her significant other (SO) got the umbrella stroller out.  The SO stayed back and I watched while mother and baby walked by.  That baby was beautiful.

The next thing I heard was the SO yelling to her “get back here right now.  He won’t wake up”.  Simultaneously, my husband arrived back with our pup and said, “there is some kind of trouble over there”.  He thought the trouble was with another child.  I immediately got out of the truck to see if I could be of assistance.  I always offer to help in medical emergencies, because I have the knowledge and the willingness to use it. Not everyone agrees with me that that is a good idea.

As I approached, I saw that the person who would not wake up was a young (26 years old) man seated in the back seat. He was the SOs younger brother.   His head was lolled onto his chest and he was completely non responsive and not breathing.  I advised him to lift his chin and straighten his neck to see if he would breath.  He did not. I asked if his brother used drugs and he said yes. I noticed a tightly rolled $100 bill in his hand and assumed he had snorted something very recently.   He vigorously rubbed his chest and slapped his face, no response. I checked his radial pulse and it was strong, regular and a good rate.  It remained so all during this horrible event.   In the meantime the lady had EMS/911 on the phone.  They got the needed information and had help on the way.  Then they gave her step by step instructions to relay to her SO to do CPR.  He lifted him from the car and onto the ground.  This was the first time for him.  He was incredibly heroic for his brother.  He did mouth to mouth respirations and I watched the young victims chest rise and fall. He then did compressions…stating “I am losing my shit here”.  I encouraged him and said he was doing an tremendous job.  I continued check his pulse and stimulate the victim and eventually he only slightly opened his eyes and moved.  EMS arrived and took over.  They gave him Narcan intramuscular.  The young man immediately woke up.  He was placed on a stretcher and taken away.

I walked away to my car.  I was an emotional wreck and began to cry, with relief, frustration and disgust.  I was relieved that the young man woke up, even though he would go to jail after medical treatment at St Joseph hospital.. He had only been out 2 days and was on parole. This will be one more opportunity for him to get clean and sober.  I was frustrated that I couldn’t get on my knees (arthritis) and do more to help with CPR and that I did not have Narcan to give him immediately.  I was disgusted with the entire opioid epidemic and the loss of young lives, just like this young man.

A young female police officer came to our truck and asked our names and addresses.  I asked her how many times she sees this. She said it was her first one that day, but she had just started her shift.  She said average was 2 a day, right here in Bangor, ME…a small city and only one police officer of many.

Then the young mother came to us before we left and thanked me for helping.  I told her that her SO did everything that needed doing and he did a great job. He is a good man and a good brother.  I knew how frightened he was.  She told me that the young man would be going back to jail.  They hadn’t seen him for 2 years, and they spotted him in a Bangor park and picked him up.  She didn’t know he had done drugs until this all happened.

I learned 2 things that day.  I need to get Narcan and learn about using it.  It is available without a prescription for free at any Maine pharmacy according to the Bangor Fire Department.  The local Health Equity Alliance teaches about using it and I have already made an appointment to go with a friend to learn about it.  It is a nasal spray, but there are instructions and precautions that people need to learn.  If I had had it on me that day, we could have administered it immediately and avoided doing CPR, although he still would have had to go to the hospital.

I also learned that I need to get a new CPR mask/barrier to carry.  I’m not sure I could have used it that day because he was on the ground, but there may come a circumstance that I could, and I would like to be prepared.  I could also have offered it to this victims brother to use.

These two items are essential when helping unresponsive people who are not breathing in the community, and my plan is to have them with me at all times soon.  However,  I hope I never encounter this kind of situation again.

I ran this experience by a group of nurses on Facebook.  The discussion was alarming.  Most agreed that I did the right thing to help this young man and his brother.  Others said they would never give Narcan in the field/community.  They worried about liability and possibly a violent reaction from the victim.  I was blown away.  I know in my heart that I could not stand by and withhold something…my skills, my knowledge and a freely available and effective medication…all tools that could save a life!  I have stopped at accidents, and helped sick or injured people on airplanes and in stores, at conferences, etc.  I don’t always do a lot, and sometimes I just stand by, but how could a nurse walk past something like what I saw?

What would you do?  How would you handle this?  I am very interested to hear from some of you who read this.



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