Deputy saves overdose victim’s life by administering Narcan nasal spray

(Photo for illustration purposes)

By Jon Johnson

GRAHAM COUNTY – A 29-year-old woman’s life was saved by a Graham County Sheriff’s Office deputy early Sunday morning due to his use of the nasal form of Narcan.

Narcan is the only FDA-approved nasal form of naloxone and was developed for use by first responders, family, friends, and caregivers of those with opioid addiction to save lives. It is available over the counter without a prescription. While the spray is intended to reverse an opiate overdose, victims should still seek out medical assistance from professionals.    

According to a Sheriff’s Office report, a deputy was dispatched to a residence on W. Concho Street at about 3:22 a.m. regarding a woman overdosing on heroin. The woman has an extensive record of drug abuse and is currently on probation for drug charges, including possession of a narcotic drug.

The deputy was flagged down by a male subject as he approached the residence. He then retrieved the Narcan nasal spray from his patrol vehicle and located the victim, who was lying on the floor of the residence on her back and was not breathing.

The deputy reported he could not feel a pulse, and after a sternum rub had no reaction, he began chest compressions to restart blood flow.

The deputy then administered 4 mg of Narcan into the victim’s right nostril and soon obtained a heartbeat even though the woman remained unresponsive.

The deputy applied another 4 mg dose of Narcan, and the woman began breathing on her own and slowly started to respond to the deputy by nodding her head.

Paramedics from Lifeline Ambulance then arrived and transported the victim to Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center for further treatment.

Governor Doug Ducey previously signed the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act on Jan. 25, and it went in effect April 26. While the 69-page act addresses many issues, including sober living homes, education for medical students, prescribing of opioids and more, the act also created a Good Samaritan provision, which excludes those seeking medical help from prosecution for drugs or drug paraphernalia located by police at that time.

Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3423 deals with the prohibited prosecution of Good Samaritans. It states, “A person who, in good faith, seeks medical assistance for someone who is experiencing a drug-related overdose may not be charged or prosecuted for the possession or use of a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia or a preparatory offense if the evidence for the violation was gained as a result of the person’s seeking medical assistance.”

 Section B continues, “A person who experiences a drug-related overdose, who is in need of medical assistance and for whom medical assistance is sought pursuant to subsection A of this section may not be charged or prosecuted for the possession or use of a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia if the evidence for the violation was gained as a result of the person’s overdose and need for medical assistance.”

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: From left, Thatcher Mayor Bob Rivera, Thatcher Councilor Ken Larson, and Graham County Supervisor Paul David sign a proclamation stating September as National Recovery Month in Graham County.

September was proclaimed National Recovery Month in Graham County during an event put on by the Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition in recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day.

There are a variety of options now in Graham County to assist those dealing with substance abuse issues. Click here for an article on two outpatient recovery facilities or here to learn about a local health care provider that uses medication-assisted treatment for those addicted to opioids.