LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — People from throughout Palm Beach County got together Thursday to remember loved ones who have died of overdoses as they call on the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office to require its deputies to be equipped with Narcan.
"What do we want? Narcan! When do we want it? Now!" chanted peaceful protestors as they stood along State Road A1A and Kyoto Gardens in Palm Beach Gardens.
"If I knew someone was around the block and came to my house and stood there while myself was administering CPR and they were not armed with Narcan I would have a real real problem," said Maureen Kielian with Recovery Advocates.
For Kielian, her mission is personal as her son is in recovery and has come close to losing his battle.
For the last 10 years, Kielian has been asking PBSO to serve and protect those battling addiction.
"It affects any family," said Kielian. "In fact, we have parents that are overdosing. We have grandparents that are overdosing."
In response, PBSO released this statement:
"First of all, our position stands. Secondly, every Sheriff’s Office and Law Enforcement agency is different, both in need, and demographics. We are satisfied with the study that found 99%+ of the time Fire Rescue personnel arrive to the scene before we do. Again, Fire Rescue personnel are trained to use naloxone as well as equipped with naloxone. We are convinced that Fire Rescue administering naloxone rather than deputies is more assuring that the individual “in need” does not suffer an adverse reaction which FR is trained to observe and immediately respond to."
"My response to that is, shows me the data," said Kielian. "We've been asking for seven years to see that study, and I'd also like to see that that study and challenge the sheriff now with COVID and the decrease in the workforce or on our first responders getting sick and extra runs for COVID calls that that is actually, in fact, true, and regardless if it's 99%, so you don't really care about the 1%. We care about that 1%."
"This beautiful girl, my beautiful daughter, died of fentanyl poisoning in 2015," said Jennifer Collins, who lost her daughter to an overdose. "Today, nothing is any better."
As the sun went down, the protest turned into a candlelight vigil as one by one people remembered their loved ones who lost their lives from an overdose.
Last year alone, Kielian said, Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue administered more than 701 doses of Narcan.
"All I know is, if they save one life, I'd be happy," said Collins.
Advocates hope if PBSO takes the initiative, other area departments will follow suit.