Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Brief History of the Heroin Crisis and the Effect on First Responders

I'm sure most of you have seen the horrifying picture of the 4 year old sitting in the back seat of a minivan while his grandmother and a male are seen overdosing in the front seats. This picture is the reality of the heroin crisis in our country and for first responders it's, unfortunately, an everyday scene.

The heroin addict was born in 1874 when the drug was introduced as a "safe" alternative to the morphine addicts derived from the tens of thousands of Northern and Confederate soldiers who had become addicted. It has been present in American culture ever since. Heroin, morphine and other opiate derivatives were sold legally in the United States until 1920 when Congress enacted The Dangerous Drug Act after seeing the danger. Fast forward to 1996 when OxyContin was introduced and now that heroin is used because it is easier to use, much cheaper and easily available.

Opioid addiction is now an epidemic, with 18,893 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 10,574 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2014. And it's only getting worse. Which means everyone in the United States has or will be affected especially the first responders who see it daily.

In Marion Ohio, the police chief stopped charging those who overdosed (Of course drug traffickers are still arrested). Instead authorities rely on other tools — prevention, education and naloxone (Narcan) an overdose medication — to try to put a dent in an epidemic that killed more than 1,400 people last year in Ohio. Police and paramedics now also have to be drug-treatment specialists. The Ohio Department of Health states that Naloxone (Narcan) was used 19,782 times by emergency personnel in Ohio last year. In another Ohio town one paramedic has used naxolone 5 times in one shift. You wonder what is does to first responders who everyday see people on the edge of death over and over and over again because of addiction.

Several of our products are used for training in basic life saving skills that are used constantly in this battle. We hope one day they aren't needed near as often as they are today.

It's likely that first responders will continue to battle this crisis daily and with their knowledge someday help end it.  We can only hope.