Watch CBS News

First Responders Being Trained To Administer Life-Saving Drug To Overdose Victims

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Drug overdoses in the area have spiked in the last few months, but there is a new drug being used to reverse the effects of narcotics -- and help prevent deaths.

"This is the worst epidemic that I can remember seeing in the last 20 years and it's killing our friends, our neighbors, our children," said Dr. Mitchell West, an emergency medicine physician.

Now, they have something that saves the lives of those who overdose on heroin.

"It literally brings people back to life," said Cheryl Andrews, executive director of the Washington Drug and Alcohol Commission.

The drug is Narcan. In the past it could only be administered by a paramedic. New laws allow first responders – and even family members – to give it now.

"We have scheduled six trainings over two weeks. Our primary focus is on first responders, to include fire departments, EMS and local police departments," said Andrews.

In Washington County, there have been more than 200 overdose deaths since 2011. This meeting at the Valley Inn Volunteer Fire Department is the first of six such meetings in the Mon Valley to train people how to use Narcan to get overdose victims breathing again.

"Lots of firemen. Lots of first responders. Lots of police officers. The Mon Valley is interested in learning about fighting these overdose deaths. They listened. They were attentive. They got the message I think," said West.

"As far as our heroin epidemic goes, it is definitely going to help us in that battle," said Sgt. Robert Kwiatkowski, a police officer.

"They may be the first person on the scene. They may arrive before the paramedics arrive. So we want to equip all first responders with the ability to be able to treat an overdose," said Andrews.

And at the conclusion of the training sessions, kits containing the Narcan are given to the various organizations for them to use on the street.

"We have an antidote for this that is very effective. We just need to get it into the hands of the people that need it," said West.

Join The Conversation On The KDKA Facebook Page
Stay Up To Date, Follow KDKA On Twitter

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.