Life-saving donation to local police

Posted at 7:19 PM, Jul 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-28 08:46:07-04

More local police officers will soon have access to Narcan, a drug that can save people from an overdose.

It's thanks to a $19,000 donation to the Mason Capital Area Prescription Drug Task Force.

Narcan is crucial to stopping the heroin epidemic in Mid-Michigan. Ingham County alone had at least 13 overdose deaths this year.

Phil Pavona watched his son Eric overdose on heroin, and says there was little he or the police could do without Narcan.

"I had to perform CPR on our son until the paramedics got there to actually put in an IV and give him Narcan and he woke up," Pavona explained.

In August 2011 Eric Pavona overdosed again and help wasn't there. He was just 25-years-old when he died. Now his dad, who started Families Against Narcotics in Okemos, is trying to prevent other families from going through the same pain.

"No one wants to die. Most of these people that overdose never intended to overdose," said Pavona, who's also part of the task force. "The problem is they have no idea of the purity of the drugs that they're getting out on the streets."

That's why the task force is using a $19,000 donation to increase access to Narcan.

"There's been a significant increase in opioid related overdoses," said Chief John Stressman with the Mason Police Department.

So far this year Lansing EMS used Narcan more than 100 times, but since police are often the first on scene the task force is trying to get more officers to carry Narcan.

"We also want to make sure that the agencies in the area that can't afford it, can get it," Stressman added. "We've even had requests from as far away as Hillsdale that we donate."

Pavona calls Narcan a short term fix.

"It's not an enabling drug in any way, shape or form," he said.

Instead Pavona says it's giving an addict time to get the help they need.

"That doesn't mean they're not going to overdose again once we've given them Narcan because again Narcan isn't the solution," Pavona explained. "It saved their life but the solution is going to be treatment."

The Ingham County Health Department is starting to track where first responders have repeatedly revived someone using Narcan. The hope is that information will help them better target prevention and treatment efforts.

"Where is our particular problem that we can focus our most energy so we can have the biggest impact," explained Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail. "The other things is looking at the demographic information that's in that data and being able to target specific demographics such as age groups."

They're also working on a new program where a police officer, EMS and therapist will go back and visit someone who recently overdosed and was saved by Narcan. They'll let that person know about rehab options as well as follow up treatment.

The donation to the task force came from the group "100 Women Who Care." Women in the Lansing area meet 4 times a year and pick a local charity each time, then all the members donate a$100.

Co-founder Donna Oadd says she can't believe how much the group has grown. It started in 2010 with less than fifty members and now has 191 members, plus the women have donated more than $360,000.

"We are so proud of the fact that we have not only given that amount of money but every single penny that is given to the charities is used for the charities," Oadd said. "We have absolutely no overhead."