SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Fatal drug overdoses are expected to break records in San Francisco this year with the powerful opioid fentanyl continuing to push the death toll higher.
KRON4’s Maureen Kelly takes a closer look at the life saving drug Narcan.
Which is a key component in the city’s strategy to make this drug epidemic less deadly.
Bill Buehlman is using his colleague at Healthright 360 to give a refresher course on how to administer Narcan or Naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
Maureen had a firsthand experience giving doses of the life-saving drug on Monday morning to a young man who had been non-responsive.
If trying to roust the potential overdose victim verbally, and then with a sternum rub fails, Buelhman then sticks the narcan dispenser up the nostril.
The Narcan comes in a two-dose box, and it’s recommended to wait 2-3 minutes before giving the second round if needed.
But Buehlman says with the powerful opioid fentanyl, sometimes even just two sprays wont’ cut it.
“Because there aren’t ill effects from mistakenly administering Naloxone, it makes it very easy and safe to administer,” said Dr. Hillary Kunins
Last year the Department of Public Health, through community partners and other city agencies including the fire department, gave out more than 60,000 doses and expects to give out even more this year.
“Our goal is to put this effective tool into the hands of people who could respond, who are often people themselves who use drugs, who themselves may be at risk for overdose. This is a tool to help people take care of each other,” Dr. Hillary Kunins said.
Buehlman himself has been on the receiving end of Narcan approximately seven times, before going into treatment in 1999 and turning his life around.
Since then he says he’s lost track of how many times he’s performed the life saving act over the last twenty years in his work in harm reduction.
“Every single person who’s using fentanyl is somebody’s wife, husband, daughter, sister, brother, and every life is worth saving,” Buehlman said.
Because as he points out dead people don’t get a chance to change.