A growing number of first responders on Staten Island will soon be equipped with a simple tool designed to reverse the deadly consequences of drug overdoses. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
All it takes is a simple squirt into each nostril with a potentially life-saving drug to overcome the impacts of a drug overdose.
The drug is naloxone. It reduces the effects of heroin and other drugs like oxycodone. They suppress the respiratory system, but naloxone causes a person in active overdose to spontaneously breathe.
In December, police officers working out of Staten Island's 120th Precinct began carrying it. So far this year, seven officers have used it, including Officer Daniel Keating.
"We took the package out. You have to put it together. It's like two different pieces. We administered one, the loud snoring, the death rattle, is what you would call it, went down," Keating said.
Three lives have already been saved using naloxone, a statistic that's given the New York City Police Department reason to expand the program to the island's three other police precincts.
Every officer on the island will be trained on using the drug by next month, thanks to $50,000 in federal funds.
That's good news for Staten Island, as the borough has the highest rate of prescription drug overdoses in the city.
"The preliminary data for 2013 shows that there were 37 drug-related overdose deaths on Staten Island," said Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan.
New York City Fire Department paramedics have been using naloxone since 1996. Now, the FDNY said all EMTs will be trained on how to use the drug by July 1, as will firefighters assigned to engine companies, which also respond to medical emergencies.
"It's very common, and I can see why they're being aggressive with it, because it's expanded," said Joseph D'Agosto, a FDNY paramedic. "Now, it's not only illegal drugs, it's legal drugs."
The expanded use of naloxone is one of many tools used to combat prescription drug overdoses. The district attorney said there are several other techniques in the works to attack the problem, including using e-prescriptions, which can be monitored, and working with the state attorney general to increase the number of people throughout the state who can access and administer naloxone.