Heroin epidemic through the eyes of an EMT

Posted at 11:34 PM, Jan 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-20 10:04:48-05

Though we've been telling stories about the growing opioid and heroin epidemic for more than a year, we've never had the perspective of a paramedic, the first responders who are often administering Narcan to help save a patient after an overdose.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has declared a countywide Public Health Crisis because the problem is everywhere: heroin is not just an issue for the city. The suburbs and rural communities are just as hard hit.

"We've picked up low income families all the way up to wealthy, well off adults and teenagers alike," said Christopher Ford, an advanced paramedic with the Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department.

Ford says since he started as an EMT when he was in high school, the number of overdose calls he goes on has drastically increased. He describes what patients are like after Narcan has been administered.

"Some people you bring them back and they're fine. A lot of times you bring them back and they don't know that they were dead. They think you just took away their high. They're extremely agitated," Ford said.

He says oftentimes overdose patients are violent, and can become upset after being revived.

"We're there to help you," said Ford. "We go into EMS to change lives for the better. It's frustrating when you find someone who has overdosed on heroin, they're in the bathroom telling you they didn't do it. You want them to never have to go through this, and get over this addiction."




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