First responders in Eatontown to use antidote for drug overdose

Staff Writer

EATONTOWN — First responders will soon deal with heroin overdoses by using Narcan, a new drug supplied by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.

Charles Webster, public information officer for the prosecutor’s office, said Narcan is an antidote for heroin overdose.

“You use two squirts into the nose, and it overrides the brain receptors reacting to the heroin overdose and shuts them down,” he said. “If someone is dying, you just use the two shots up their nose, and in no more than a minute, they are out of the overdose.”

Webster said Narcan is currently being used only in Monmouth and Ocean counties as a pilot program for the state after heroin use was identified as being at “epidemic” levels in New Jersey.

Narcan has been in use in Ocean County for more than a month, and the first responders using it have saved between 12 and 15 lives, he said.

Eatontown is one of the towns being supplied with Narcan. First responders — emergency medical services (EMS), fire department volunteers and police officers — are being trained to administer the drug.

“We need to be more prepared, and we cannot guarantee there would be a medic on every call,” said Ron MacLeod, captain of the Eatontown First Aid Squad. “Time is of the essence.”

Eatontown police Lt. Kenneth Klienman said preparation is key when dealing with heroin overdoses.

“The borough has been fortunate in that there have been only two recorded instances in 2014 where we have responded to a reported heroin overdose,” Klienman said in an email. “With the serious proliferation of heroin in Monmouth and Ocean counties, we believe that we must be fully prepared to handle more of these events.”

Police and first responders will be trained by Eatontown officers who attended classes on the proper use of Narcan taught by Dr. Ken Lavelle, EMS medical director and clinical instructor of emergency medicine at Jefferson Medical College, according to Klienman.

“The training involved orienting the officers on what heroin is and what its effects are on people,” Klienman said in an email. “[It] also provided instruction on how to set up the Narcan applicator device and how to administer the drug to an unconscious victim.

“The instruction also went into detail on topics such as patient positioning when using Narcan and how much of the drug is to be administered to the victim.”

Webster said the prosecutor’s office is purchasing Narcan from the state through forfeiture funds, or funds seized by the prosecutor’s office from organized crime.

He said the use of heroin has been growing.

“The heroin problem has increasingly gotten worse since 1999,” Webster said. “In 2012, 70 people in Monmouth County died from prescription opiates. In 2013, there were 68 deaths.

“We are still in that same range, so it is hard to say if the problem is really getting better.

Webster said it is too early to judge whether the use of Narcan is having an impact.