Vail police officer uses Narcan to save woman dying of heroin overdose
About Narcan and fentanyl
Narcan is a nasal mist that counteracts fentanyl, a powerful narcotic that is commonly mixed into heroin. Narcan is now carried by all Eagle County law enforcement agencies.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Fentanyl can be absorbed directly through the skin.
Narcan directly counteracts the effects of fentanyl, often saving the life of the person affected.
Source: Vail Police Department
VAIL — Memorial Day was memorable for a woman whose life was saved when a police officer administered two doses of an anti-overdose medication.
Vail Police Officer Greg Schwartz responded to the Four Seasons Resort Vail at 2:40 a.m. Monday and found the 32-year-old woman in a large walk-in closet. The woman was unresponsive as her friends administered CPR. Schwartz applied an automatic external defibrillator, which did not administer a shock, Vail police said.
Schwartz soon heard the woman’s friends talking about heroin, so he gave her a dose of Narcan. The first was not effective, so Schwartz gave her another, Vail police said.
That second dose did the trick, and the woman was rushed to the hospital, where she is expected to make a full recovery, Vail police said.
Colorado has a Good Samaritan law, and the witnesses who called 911 were cooperative. They will not be prosecuted, Vail police said.
The woman had ingested a combination of alcohol and heroin that police say they believe contained fentanyl. They’re waiting for lab results, they said.
For drug dealers, lacing the narcotics they sell is as simple as market differentiation.
“If your product gets people higher than anyone else’s product, that’s a bragging right,” said Vail Police Sgt. Luke Causey. “If they get so high that occasionally someone dies from it, that’s also a bragging right.”
All Eagle County law enforcement agencies and most first responders carry Narcan, also known as Naloxone HCL. Vail police officers have been carrying Narcan since late October. This is the first time they’ve had to use it.
Narcan is county wide
Eagle Police Chief Joey Staufer said opioid abuse and addiction is an epidemic in America, and Colorado is not immune.
His officers trained with Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s Narcan for Life project, learning to recognize symptoms of overdose and how to administer Narcan nasal spray to reverse an opiate overdose.
“Unfortunately, due to the toxic cocktail drug dealers have been creating with fentanyl, heroin and other compounds, police departments around the nation have reported the need of multiple doses of Narcan to reverse opioid overdose symptoms,” Staufer said.
Eagle police have seen an increase in heroin arrests and seizures since the beginning of the year, but have not yet had to use Narcan in an opiate overdose medical calls this year, Staufer said.
“It is only a matter of time and our officers are prepared to intervene, should they encounter an opioid overdose emergency,” Staufer said.
Narcan is for emergencies; it’s not an answer to the nation’s opioid epidemic, Staufer said.
“These solutions begin with funding mental health programs and addiction counseling centers, such as the proposed detox facility for Eagle County, to ensure viable resources exist locally,” Staufer said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.