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Two people found unresponsive in Florence of possible opioid overdose

The two people were taken to Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital.

Posted: May. 18, 2018 4:36 PM
Updated: May. 18, 2018 4:50 PM

WAAY 31 obtained exclusive dash cam and body cam footage of Florence Police officers trying to save the lives of two people who they said overdosed Wednesday night.

Florence Police arrived at a gas station on Pine Street to find two people lifeless in a car. Police started rubbing their sternums and laid them on the ground to get them to wake up. Police tell us both patients were given a dose of Narcan by paramedics and taken to Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital. We do not know their conditions at this time.

Police said they did not find any drugs in the car, but said the people likely overdosed on an opioid like heroin.

Shoals Ambulance officials said every one of their teams are equipped with Narcan, and in the last week they have had to use the drug 12 times.

"Sometimes they are blue. Sometimes they don't have any color, a lot of stuff runs through our heads when we go in," said Shoals Ambulance Paramedic Supervisor Carrie Walker.

Walker said in her years as a paramedic she has given patients Narcan too many times to count. Narcan reverses the affects of opioid overdoses.

"Some wake up mad, some wake up happy that you saved their lives," said Walker.

Walker tells us scenes like what played out Wednesday night are things they go to often. In the video given to WAAY 31 by Florence police, you can hear and see officers trying to help both people. The man comes too, but he seems to be in and out. Officers pulled the woman out of the car and you can hear her grasping for breath, as officers wait for paramedics to arrive.

"What those officers at that scene needed was Narcan," said Florence Police Chief Ron Tyler.

Tyler said the opioid epidemic in the Shoals is not over, and it's why officers need to carry Narcan.

"When our folks would have showed up and seen those individuals completely incapacitated; barely breathing, had a weak pulse, our guys could have administered Narcan and quickly started the recovery process," said Tyler.

Tyler tells us he wants his officers to have the Narcan nasal spray, which is foolproof. Tyler compared it to being as easy to use as an EpiPen.

"It's the easiest drug we can administer to save someone's life," said Tyler

The problem is funding. Tyler tells us they are looking for ways to equip officers with Narcan through grants from the Alabama Department of Public Health, but if that doesn't work they will explore other options.

"We don't need a publicity stunt of somebody giving one dose of Narcan to our agency. What we need is 110 doses of Narcan, 200 doses of Narcan for every officer in Lauderdale County in order for us to make an impact," said Tyler.

Tyler said they could roughly get two doses of the nasal spray Narcan for about $70. He said that's a small price to pay to save someone's life.

"We are here to save somebody's life and that's what we want to do. If it's a heroin addict maybe we can save their life and put them on the road to recovery," said Tyler.

Tyler said all of their officers are medically trained, all they need is the Narcan.

Shoals Ambulance officials said they normally see more overdoses when the weather warms up, making the need for officers to have Narcan greater.

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