Saving a drug overdose victim: how you can help

Local News

First responders say Narcan can save lives in the hands of the public, but they want trained bystanders to be cautious.

Michael Long says everyone deserves a second chance. He’s personally been impacted by the opioid epidemic.

“It hits home with me. My brother battled with addiction for a long time,” said Long, an Ebensburg resident. “One time we had to call 911. They were quick. I’m not really sure how or what they did. But when I got there he was already in the ambulance.”

Overdoses can happen anywhere, anytime. First responders say although your first instinct may be to help, you need to be careful and not put yourself in danger.

“If it’s a drug environment, the needles still laying around, weapons, other individuals who may not want you to help,” said Eric Miller from Forest Hills Area Ambulance. 

Paramedics say the first step is to call 911 and let everyone know professionals are on the way.
If the scene is safe, bystanders trained to administer Narcan or CPR can try to help a victim. However, they warn against giving mouth-to-mouth to strangers. Chest compressions can also help keep a victim breathing.

First responders say many times on overdose calls, they’ll find victims placed in bathtubs or showers to ‘wake them up.’

“Putting them out in the snow, we’ve found that. That doesn’t help,” said West End Ambulance Manager Ira Hart.

Slapping a victim or throwing water on them also will not save them.

“The only thing that’s going to help is Narcan or to continue to breath for them,” Hart said.

Long says his brother got a second chance at life and he’s been clean for 12 years. 

“He turned things around, he really did,” said Long.

So, Long says stepping in to help another overdose victim could mean someone else’s brother gets a second chance too.

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