LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - On average, there are between six and ten overdoses a day in Lexington. On a Thursday afternoon, the state's top prosecutor ran in to one of them.
"I grew up in Lexington. I worked half a block from where this happened," Attorney General Andy Beshear told WKYT's Miranda Combs.
Beshear and his cyber crimes investigator, who also is a paramedic in Louisville, were driving in downtown Lexington on September 7th. 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."
Beshear continued, "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."
Keats started CPR and others gathered to help. A police officer showed up with the overdose reversing drug, Narcan. 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 fifteen minutes. But the images, the up-close view of the epidemic, Beshear said he won't forget. "It was an awakening. I've met hundreds of parents who have lost children. 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."