‘It’s a dis­ease we have to elim­i­nate’

Sem­i­nar at­ten­dees learned about the symp­toms of an opioid over­dose and how to ad­min­is­ter Nar­can

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ginger Rae Dun­bar gdun­bar@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @GingerDun­bar on Twit­ter

SADSBURY >> Leo Scac­cia, direc­tor of Brandy­wine Hospi­tal’s Medic 93, en­cour­ages oth­ers to start the con­ver­sa­tion about the tragedies of opioid over­doses be­cause “it’s a dis­ease we have to elim­i­nate.”

Sads­buryville Fire Com­pany No. 1 fire­fight­ers hosted the sem­i­nar Mon­day to ed­u­cate the pub­lic about Nalox­one, an over­dose in­ter­ven­tion drug. Scac­cia dis­cussed signs and symp­toms of an opioid over­dose that would prompt the use of Nalox­one, such as slowed or ir­reg­u­lar breath­ing, and how to ad­min­is­ter Nalox­one.

A Nalox­one dose can be pur­chased over the counter at phar­ma­cies such as CVS for nearly $30. Nalox­one, also known as Nar­can, is a drug that tem­po­rar-

ily re­verses the symp­toms of an opioid over­dose. When asked, Scac­cia noted that it is en­cour­aged to have it in the home of some­one who is an opioid ad­dict, or who is pre­scribed to an opioid. Ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Ad­dic­tion Cen­ters, three com­monly pre­scribed opioid med­i­ca­tions are Vi­codin, OxyCon­tin and mor­phine.

The Good Sa­mar­i­tan Law, passed in 2014, al­lows first re­spon­ders to carry Nar­can. All Ch­ester County po­lice de­part­ments have per­mit­ted their of­fi­cers to carry Nar­can in an ef­fort to save lives. Ac­cord­ing to Good Fel­low­ship Am­bu­lance and Ethan Healey, Project Nalox­one founder and man­ager, there have been 91 Nalox­one uses in Ch­ester County this year with 86 of them suc­cess­ful re­ver­sals by law en­force­ment.

Scac­cia an­nounced the fol­low­ing opioid over­doses in 2014 that he de­scribed as pre­ventable: 66 in Ch­ester County; about 80 in Lan­caster County; and slightly more than 120 in Delaware County. Opi­oids were in­volved in 28,647 deaths na­tion­wide in 2014, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC).

“We should care for ev­ery­body,” Scac­cia said de­spite any stereo­types of peo­ple us­ing such drugs, pre­scribed or not.

Scac­cia said peo­ple might imag­ine home­less peo­ple hud­dled around a fire in a can us­ing drugs to­gether. But, he said when some­one takes too much, they call 911, scat­ter and help comes.

“The tragedy is that a lot of our young peo­ple or other peo­ple that take too much of this med­i­ca­tion un­know­ingly, they’re do­ing it alone,” Scac­cia said, which de­lays a call for help. “They’re do­ing it in ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. They’re do­ing it be­cause they’re afraid, but they still seek some­thing out of it. And they end up tak­ing too much.”

Scac­cia noted that be­cause opi­oids af­fect a per­son’s breath­ing, that many “end up dy­ing be­cause they are alone” when they take too many. He noted that first re­spon­ders na­tion­wide have re­sponded to nurs­ing homes for nar­cotic over­doses. He ex­plained that the epi­demic im­pacts peo­ple of all ages. He said ad­dic­tion and es­pe­cially opioid over­doses are “a dis­ease we have to elim­i­nate.”

“Our epi­demic is pain,” Scac­cia said in re­gards to pain med­i­ca­tion. “It is very dif­fi­cult to man­age pain be­cause pain is sub­jec­tive.”

Scac­cia urged that when ad­min­is­ter­ing Nar­can to talk the pa­tient and in­form them that “you’re safe” and “we’re here to help you.” He ex­plained that sim­i­lar to wak­ing some­one from a deep sleep, the re­vived pa­tient may be fright­ened, es­pe­cially when they see peo­ple in uni­form stand­ing over them.

Nalox­one does not work on some­one who does not have a heart­beat. For some­one in car­diac ar­rest, per­form CPR.

State Sen. An­drew Din­ni­man, D-19, of West Whiteland, an­nounced this month that three schools in Ch­ester County – Avon Grove High School, Con­estoga High School and Ox­ford Area High School – have been pro­vided with Nalox­one free of charge un­der a new state ini­tia­tive. Din­ni­man is seek­ing re-elec­tion for the 19th Dis­trict and Avon­dale Repub­li­can Jack Lon­don is run­ning against him.

Scac­cia urged peo­ple to prop­erly dis­pose of un­used pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tions in their homes by tak­ing them to po­lice de­part­ments that have dropoff boxes, in­stead of leav­ing the pills in the med­i­ca­tion cabi­net where some­one else could ac­cess the med­i­ca­tion.

Scac­cia spoke to an au­di­ence mixed of Sads­buryville fire­fight­ers, fire­fight­ers from sur­round­ing ar­eas, EMTs, nurses, po­lice of­fi­cers, com­mu­nity mem­bers and oth­ers. He al­lowed the au­di­ence mem­bers to prac­tice how they would ad­min­is­ter Nalox­one by fill­ing the nasal spray in­stead with wa­ter and us­ing it on a manikin.

For more on this topic, visit Daily Lo­cal News staff writer Ginger Rae Dun­bar’s blog about jour­nal­ism and vol­un­teer­ing as a fire­fighter at Fire­fight­erGinger.blogspot.com.


Anne LeTourneau, an EMT with the Marple Town­ship Am­bu­lance Corps (MTAC) in Delaware County, prac­tices on a man­nequin how to ad­min­is­ter nalox­one.

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