MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Martin County has the sixth highest rate for fatal overdoses in Florida.
398 overdoses and 27 overdose deaths were counted in Martin County in 2019, so emergency officials are working to bring those numbers down.
As a community paramedic with Martin County Fire Rescue, Rob Chagnon says he and his peers often see the same people in trouble.
“These same people are overdosing again and again. Sometimes when we don’t see the overdose anymore, that person has passed away, they’ve succumbed to the overdose,” says Chagnon.
So Chagnon is spearheading a new program to stem the tide. It’s called the “Narcan Leave Behind Project”, part of the state’s opioid response. Participants are family members, loved ones, or roommates who are in close contact with someone at risk of overdosing.
“Overdoses happen very quickly and drugs that get distributed throughout the area have different potencies. Sometimes it’s very much a surprise to somebody when they overdose,” said Martin Fire-Rescue Bureau Chief Chris Kammel.
In the program, Martin County Fire Rescue leaves behind two cans of Narcan to participants. It’s a medication that can reverse overdoses.
“It’s super simple, right inside flap, it has some instructions, tell people what they’re looking for, how to administer it. Once they administer it, to call 911,” said Chagnon.
Through a grant from the Department of Children and Families, 100 twin-pack Narcan cases will be distributed. Fire-Rescue says past experience shows providing Narcan doesn’t enable destructive behavior, and it’s not designed to be a cure-all.
“This is not to cure the opioid crisis. Realistically, the idea is to get someone to survive the encounter to get to the point where we can eventually start the conversation to getting that person moving into rehab and getting them help and changing their life,” said Chagnon.