Valuing Life at a Moment’s Notice….
Thoughts on Community Safety by Chief of Department Bruce Lockwood, Town of Canton Volunteer Fire and EMS Department
Opioid Overdoses in Canton: Preventing the Next Family Tragedy
Opioid overdoses can happen to any family, anywhere, at any time. A primary source for opioids is the family medicine cabinet. Open, honest conversation, knowing the danger signs, safe storage and disposal are some basics of overdose prevention.
Dispatch: Unconscious Male; December, 2019: On arrival, Canton’s Fire and EMS crews found a middle-aged man, showing signs of an opioid overdose. Our Paramedic was looking for: shallow breathing, constricted pupils, faint heartbeat, listless arms and legs, and a pale, blue tint to the skin. Narcan was quickly administered. While not a treatment for Opioid Use Disorder, Narcan reverses and blocks the effects of opioids, making it possible to revive the patient – if emergency personnel, or a Canton Police Officer, or even a trained member of the general public – can get to them in time.
In Response to what is now a common emergency dispatch, all over the Farmington Valley, Town of Canton Volunteer Fire and EMS Department recently participated in a series of opioid overdose prevention videos, produced by the Farmington Valley Health District. The videos, each only a few minutes long, cover ways to prevent a potential tragedy in your family:
• Responsible Storage.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports that over 50% of prescription opioid users picked up their last dose from a friend or relative’s supply. In the wrong hands, any medication can be a deadly weapon. Therefore, proper storage of opioids and all medication, requires daily vigilance and regular oversight.
• Safe Disposal.
Medications flushed down the toilet end up in our water system. Many Police Departments, including the Canton Police Department, provide no-questions-asked Drop Boxes for disposal of unused medications. The Box can be found in the Canton Police lobby.
• Know the Signs. Make the Call.
Farmington Valley Health District has compiled a list of resources that provide education, training and distribution for Narcan, to members of the public who may potentially witness an opioid overdose.
You should also know that Connecticut’s Good Samaritan Law protects individuals, who call 911 to report a suspected overdose, even if they are in possession of drugs/paraphernalia.
In 2019, there were seven emergency calls where Canton’s Paramedics administered Narcan. While each of these patients survived, this will not always be the case. Every day, two to three Connecticut residents die of opioid overdoses.
Iencourage you to put an opioid overdose prevention plan into place for your family. A great resource is the series of excellent videos, sponsored by the Farmington Valley Health District, (www.FVHD.org):
It Can Happen to Anyone—focuses on engaging the family in an open dialogue regarding substance use and the dangers. (1.30 minutes)
Do the Right Thing—focuses on teenagers and encourages them to call 911 in an emergency and the importance of Narcan. (3.13 minutes)
Don’t be a Part of the Problem—focuses on the importance of monitoring and disposing of unused prescription drugs. (2.28 minutes)
Canton’s volunteer firefighters and EMT/Paramedics are trained and equipped to handle opioid overdoses, other medical, fire, smoke, and hazardous emergencies. Prevention, however, is key to life safety in our community. That’s where you can help us keep you and your family healthy and protected throughout the year.
Yours in safety,
Bruce Lockwood, Chief of Department