JCFD rapid intervention for heroin overdoses

By Jillian Marshall

July 30, 2014 Updated Jul 30, 2014 at 5:39 PM EDT

Johnson City, NY (WBNG Binghamton) It's an epidemic that's hit the Southern Tier and beyond. Today's heroin is cheap, highly addictive and a scourge on our local communities. In attempt to battle the dangerous drug and the overdoses that come with it, Narcan is now in the hands of the Johnson City Fire department.

Firefighters in Johnson City are battling more than just flames. Last week, Narcan became the new addition to the rigs.

Narcan, also known as Naloxon, is a medicine that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose - like a heroin overdose.

The fire department usually responds to medic and EMS calls, but now it can administer the Narcan.

In the past four years, the amount of heroin overdose calls JCFD has responded to has doubled.

President of the Johnson City firefighters association Bob Blakeslee said the department can get anywhere in the village in about three minutes and that rapid intervention is the key to getting someone to start breathing again.

Narcan works in about one minute.

"We're in the lifesaving business and that's what we do. We're there to provide some kind of intervention and hopefully this is a tool that can get somebody to turn their life around. Where if we don't get there in a couple of minutes and administer this medicine, they don't get that second chance at life," Blakeslee said.

JC firefighters were already trained medics, but now they can add an additional two hours of training on how to administer the lifesaving medicine to their resumes.

The one-time use medicine is on both of the JCFD trucks and its EMS vehicle.

The department is working on getting Narcan in the chiefs' vehicles as well.

Blakeslee said a Narcan kit costs about $31.

In the past week, the JCFD has yet to use Narcan, but Blakeslee said he's guessing it won't be long.