Scott Fire Chief Chad Sonnier never dealt with drug overdoses in his 14-year tenure leading the city's Fire Department, which also responds to medical emergencies. Until 2017, that is.
There have been three to five opioid overdoses in Scott since the beginning of the year, Sonnier said. None have been fatal, he said, but the department’s 42 first responders haven’t been able to do much but stabilize patients and wait for an Acadian Ambulance crew.
Acadian responders are equipped to administer naloxone, a drug that reverses overdoses by blocking opioids from the brain. But Acadian can take 5-10 minutes to arrive because of the rural areas they cover, Sonnier said, and every minute counts.
“When you are looking at an overdose, it’s similar to whenever somebody drowns or has cardiac arrest,” Sonnier said.
But now the Scott Fire Department has obtained its own supply of naloxone from Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office, and trained all of its first responders to administer the drug. Landry netted 60,000 vials of naloxone from Pfizer Inc. as a settlement to an unrelated lawsuit, according to www.fiercepharma.com.
Louisiana saw a 12.4 percent increase in drug overdose deaths from 2014 to 2015, as national rates began to soar, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The crisis is mainly the result of overdoses of opioids, which are present in prescription painkillers as well as illegal drugs such as heroin.
Scott is getting 10 of the vials Pfizer is delivering to Louisiana, and Sonnier hopes this supply will last about two years. He said one vial is typically used for each overdose, though there are times when two vials are required.
“Hopefully elected officials can have some type of resolution by that time,” Sonnier said.