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CBS 2 is there as a man saves a life with Narcan at a West Side gas station

CBS 2 is there as overdosing man is saved with Narcan
CBS 2 is there as overdosing man is saved with Narcan 03:25

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Powerful video shows how the overdose drug Narcan is saving lives.

We were out working on a story about the historic Illinois Supreme Court ruling on the SAFE-T Act ending cash bail Tuesday, when we came across a man who overdosed. As CBS 2's Chris Tye reported, our cameras captured the life-saving actions as bystanders rushed to help – and used Narcan to revive the man.

We came to a West Side Amoco gas station Tuesday to talk with employee Luis Gonzalez for a story about how Illinois is ending cash bail. Another man, Matthew McFarland, was there too for an interview - when something wildly unexpected happened.

McFarland recognized a man who had clearly overdosed and was lifeless.

McFarland stepped into action right away – administering Narcan to the man, whom he called Richie.

The first round of Narcan did nothing.

Others started to come over and observe - but only McFarland - with no gloves, but several Narcan doses in his trunk – took total control. Others shouted support as McFarland urged Richie to "sniff up."

But after round two, Richie was still out.

A bystander asked if McFarland wanted him to call an ambulance. But after three plugs of Narcan, Richie was successfully revived.

He sniffed up, eventually sat up, and walked himself out of the lot.

"It's unfortunate," McFarland said. "It happens all the time."

A former crack addict who has done time, McFarland now works for the Lawndale Christian Legal Center - where he knows the regulars at the nearby gas station.

Tye asked McFarland how many times he has made such a rescue with Narcan.

"Probably 50," McFarland said. "I'm known up here. You know, people will run into the gas station sometimes, screaming: 'Is Matt here? Someone's dying down the street!'"

Joel Johnson works out of Chicago for Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities. He praised McFarland's quick action.

"Matthew is not a first responder, but he understood what was at stake - and he took that opportunity to save a life today," Johnson said.

Johnson says drug overdoses are up eightfold over 10 years nationwide, as the Food and Drug Administration made Narcan available over the counter this year.

"If we didn't save him just now, he might have not ever gotten to the point where he was able to get sober," McFarland said. "You can't get sober if you're not breathing."

McFarland says often, people don't want to jump into action out of fear of being attached to those experiencing an overdose.

But having more people trained on NARCAN, and having the nasal spray available at more places, are the best ways to save lives as the crisis deepens.

As for Richie, we are told the overdose he suffered was heroin laced with fentanyl. Late Tuesday, we also learned that Richie came back to the gas station to thank McFarland for saving his life.

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