3 to 5 fatal heroin overdoses in Gates, fire chief looking for life-saving drug

Posted at: 02/14/2014 10:21 PM
Updated at: 02/14/2014 11:52 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

A suburban fire department is actively trying to get a life-saving drug to put on their fire trucks. The reason? A shockingly high number of deadly heroin over-doses in recent weeks. 

In the last two months, Gates Police say they've had somewhere between three and five of these overdoses. The police chief says that's what they might have in a normal year. Police don't know the exact number because they're still waiting for official toxicology results. 

The gates fire chief says having this other drug would help his firefighters save lives. 


"It's very important because we're seeing an upward trend in the amount of drug overdoses, at least in our community," Gates Fire Chief Jim Harrington said.

Chief Harrington says his department has been going to at least one deadly heroin case every month since November. 

Brean: And that's a lot?

Harrington: For this community it is because we have not seen that type of activities in our community in the recent years. 

Harrington wants permission from the state and his fire district to carry Narcon in his fire trucks. 

To see how Narcon works we went to Gates Ambulance. EMS Chief Randy Campbell showed us a sample. With a device on the end, EMTs and fire fighters spray it up a patient's nose like a decongestant. 

"Usually it effects within two to three minutes, the person is breathing again if they weren't breathing or breathing better," Campbell said.

Narcon has been carried by ambulance corps for years. It's on Rochester City Fire trucks as part of a pilot program. Gates Fire wants it as a necessity. 

"We're eventually going to come across these were the person is overdosed and without us having some kind of proactive intervention we're probably not going to have a good outcome on the patient care," Chief Harrington said. 

When fire departments get this drug, they use it. Look at the numbers from the city fire department. 

When the department first got Narcon in 2012 it was used 19 times. Last year -- 71 times. And already this year -- 9 times. 

The Gates police chief says the people who died recently from heroin overdoses ranged in age from late 20's to mid 50's. 

A report from the medical examiner's office shows the number of heroin-related deaths in Monroe County quadrupled from 2011 to 2013.