A heroin user found unconscious at his home in east San Diego was saved by a deputy who used an overdose antidote that the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department recently began carrying.
According to officials, the 37-year-old heroin user was found unresponsive by his parents in the 400 block of Bradley Avenue in El Cajon just after 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Sheriff’s Traffic Sgt. Scott Hill, who’s assigned to the Santee Sheriff’s Station, was the first deputy on scene. Hill gave the unconscious man Naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of heroin.
Shortly thereafter, the overdose victim began breathing and taken to a local hospital.
Officials with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department began carrying Naloxone two weeks ago under a pilot program, becoming the first agency in California to carry the overdose antidote.
Officials said Wednesday’s incident is the first known use of Naloxone by a deputy in San Diego County.
Naloxone, a generic form of the drug known as Narcan, is a nasal spray that can be given to victims of an opiate overdose.
The antidote comes in a small kit with an applicator to create a nasal spray. A squirt in each nostril, like a flu vaccine, puts the medication in the bloodstream. It quickly interrupts the opiate response, which restores the addict’s ability to breathe and increases the heart rate.
As part of the pilot program, deputies patrolling the East County communities of Santee, Lakeside and unincorporated El Cajon will test Naloxone for six months to determine the effectiveness of implementing the program throughout the department’s jurisdiction in San Diego County. Deputies will carry Naloxone whenever they respond to 911 calls.
Scripps Health, a nonprofit integrated health system in San Diego, donated $4,500 to purchase the antidote for the six-month trial period.
The pilot program is administered under the direction of County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Director, Dr. Bruce Haynes, who helped develop the protocol, procedures and training necessary for the deputies to safely administer the antidote, sheriff's officials said.
Under the program, deputies – who are the first to respond to a scene – are allowed to administer Naloxone to overdose victims prior to the arrival of EMS units when every second is critical.