NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Nashville Fire Department has been using Narcan for at least fifty years. Now, they’re using it more than ever before.
According to the Nashville Fire Department, from 2014 to 2016 the number of Narcan doses administered increased by 79 percent.
“We knew there had been a dramatic increase but to see nearly 80 percent was surprising to me,” said EMS Commander Joaquin Toon.
Commander Toon says he encourages his crews to care for the patients about also themselves as their workload increases.
“Of course our concern is taking care of the patient but our crews have to be concerned first and foremost with their own safety.”
Sometimes, he says, an overdose victim can become violent once awake.
“Occasionally once a patient is given Narcan they will arouse and become violent,” Commander Toon told News 2. “To some, we’ve wasted their high or buzz and they will become unruly and uncooperative toward our ambulance crew.”
“The firefighters will step in if we feel unsafe,” said Paramedic Nicole Royce. “They’re always in the back of the ambulance with us and willing to help out and jump in. They don’t let us get hurt.”
Royce says while her workload has increased, Narcan has made her job easier.
“With Narcan I know what to expect. It’s easy to administer and I’ve never seen it not work unless they’ve been gone for a while. it’s a really good drug to have.”
She says opioid overdoses don’t discriminate and the Fire Department responds to calls all over Nashville; no neighborhood is unscathed.
But it’s not unheard of for a crew to respond to the same house for an overdose multiple times a week.
“Your hope and intent is that you have resolved their issue but unfortunately sometimes, two or three days later we’ll respond back to the same residence,” said Commander Toon. “That’s bound to be very trying on our paramedics and our firefighters.”
As paramedics use Narcan more and more, the cost is also rising. News 2’s Jessica Jaglois looks into supply and demand for Davidson County on News 2 at 6:00 p.m.