Retired firefighter educates public about Narcan

Published: Jul. 22, 2019 at 11:46 PM EDT
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One first responder is traveling the country to teach people a way of saving a life that previously, only first responders had access to. In a two-hour seminar held in Gainesville, a dozen people learned about a drug used in worst-case scenarios.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose deaths continue to increase in the United States. Just two years ago more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses, and now one former first responder wants to help lower those numbers.

For almost three decades Luis Garcia was a firefighter paramedic in South Florida.

And for the past two years, Garcia says he's hosted more than 100 2-hour Narcan seminars across the country to teach people when and how to administer the drug.

"In my 28 years in fire rescue, Narcan was the most powerful drug that we carried in a fire rescue paramedic box or our code blue crash car. It is an amazing magic drug, there are very few concerns with the administration of Narcan and because it is available even a 10-year-old child an administer with no training," said Garcia.

Narcan is FDA approved and can help someone suffering from cardiac arrest or reverse an opioid overdose.

"Working in healthcare for 35 years, yes I have seen patients, clients, employees, that have had addiction issues," stated Sally Dahlem, Co-Owner of Home By Choice.

With her daughter attending the University of Florida one woman came to the Gainesville seminar to learn more about Narcan.

"My main concern is that the kids nowadays with this vaping, their drinking, their inhibitions are lowered, they're vaping they don't know who gave them the vape, it could be laced with the fentanyl , so this could be a really big problem that we could have at out our high schools or universities," said Eldita Garcia, Luxury Real Estate Specialist.

Garcia says the one challenge he often recognizes, is the stigma that comes with drug abuse.

"The reality is that most people still judge people who are battling the disease of substance abuse disorder, it is a disease, it is not a life choice. Unless someone has lost a child to addiction, unless they themselves have worked in this field, or they're in a 12-step recovery program and they know somebody's whose family members are battling is, most people don't understand it and they just don't care," said Garcia.

Garcia says he's given out more than three thousand Narcan sprays with help from donations.

And while most of the people at the seminar said they've never administered Narcan, but being informed and having the drug on hand means that they will have the chance to save a life when that time comes.