LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - "We have good coverage within the city and are typically there within about four minutes," said Lexington firefighter Lt. Chris Martin. Martin explained the paramedic response time in Lexington is faster than many rural areas of Kentucky.
"There might be a county that only has two ambulances in the entire county," he said. "They're going to have very long response times and there's probably going to be a local law enforcement officer that's going to get there first." Because of that, a bill was brought to the attention of the state legislature to allow first responders, like police officers, to carry Narcan.
"So we use it for opioid overdoses," Martin said. Heroin is an opioid. In the past few years, heroin numbers have risen at a compounding rate in Lexington. So far for 2014 in Lexington, we are at or slightly below numbers from this time last year for heroin overdose deaths.
Martin said they go on about two overdose runs a day in which they typically administer Narcan. For Lexington fire, in 2012, they used Narcan an average of 54.75 times a month. In 2013 it was about the same. So far this year though, Lexington firefighters saw a 14% increase in Narcan administration to 62.5 times a month. But they said each time Narcan is administered, it doesn't always point to a heroin overdose. Protocol states that anytime they have a patient that is unconscious but breathing, they give Narcan. "If it's not an opioid overdose, the Narcan won't hurt the person," Martin said.
"It would be a great tool in our toolbox," Martin explained.
Public Safety Commissioner Clay Mason testified in front of legislators twice this year in support of Senate Bill 5. His heroin task force even prompted the Lexington Fire Department to start writing a training guide for city police. "We had a training protocol ready to go for the police officers to train them to recognize signs of heroin overdose and how to give Narcan," Martin said.
But Commissioner Mason says the bill ended up with some controversial provisions that clouded the issue for legislators. And now, training for police that was ready to execute is now put on the shelf.