Attorney general recounts 'awakening experience' saving overdose victim

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky's attorney general and one of his team of investigators got a first-hand look at the hard realities of drug overdoses when they came upon a real case in downtown Lexington.

"I grew up in Lexington, and I worked half a block from where this happened," Attorney General Andy Beshear said.

Beshear and his cyber crimes investigator, who also is a paramedic in Louisville, were driving in downtown Lexington on September 7 when they were stopped at the intersection of Short Street and Broadway by a smoking car.

"I immediately recognized the driver was unconscious and not breathing," Josh Keats recalled.

Keats knew the driver had overdosed.

"I knew if we didn't get him some air, he was going to die right in front of us," he said.

On average, there are between 6 and 10 overdoses a day in Lexington. It's just often they happen in front of the state's top elected prosecutor.

"So Josh and I each grab an arm, got him out and at this point, he is down on a downtown street in Lexington at three-something in the afternoon on a Thursday, dying between two cars," Beshear said.

Keats started CPR and others gathered to help. A police officer showed up with the overdose reversing drug Narcan which Keats administered it to the victim.

"He started to come around a little bit but he needed several more doses, which is kind of commonplace with the level of Carfentanyl that these guys are ingesting," Keats said. "The Narcan is just not potent enough to combat it."

The whole event lasted just 15 minutes. But the images and up-close view of the epidemic is something Beshear said he won't forget.

"It was an awakening. I've met hundreds of parents who have lost children," he said. "But to see that person's color totally change, to see them dying, not breathing, probably for a couple of minutes, in the end, it was an experience."

Beshear said today, there are more people arrested for driving under the influence of drugs in Kentucky than alcohol.

"We're not just worried about that person's life. That person can kill a number of other people. We've got to get on top of the opioid epidemic. Not just because of the fatal overdoses, but the damage it can cause to totally innocent people around," he said. "It makes me just want to fight all that much harder."



 
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