Virginia Beach EMS repeatedly revive same opiate overdose victims

VIRGINIA BEACH – It’s a nasal spray that will save your life, and pull you back from the dark depths of an opiate overdose.

The drug is called narcan (or naloxone), and in Virginia Beach, most medical professionals see it as lifesaver.

However, statistics from Virginia Beach Emergency Medical Services (VBEMS) show in the last ten months 18 people have been revived more than once, on separate occasions.

Repetitive revival is why others see narcan as an enabler of opiate addiction.

“It is just so widespread. That is what is so disheartening about it,” said Capt. Tyler Kerr with VBEMS.

Kerr has administered narcan before. “It can be heartbreaking sometimes,” Kerr told News 3’s Merris Badcock. Family members, children have called [911] for their parents.”

In the last ten months, Virginia Beach EMS officials like Kerr have administered narcan 274 times. Of those who needed narcan, statistics show about one-third of the individuals needed more than one dose on the way to the hospital.

Often times, EMS officials are on the front lines of the heroin epidemic. “Addiction is not some dark, taboo subject,” said Kerr, “and there are avenues for people to get help.”

In Virginia, you do not have to be a doctor, a nurse, or even a police officer to buy narcan or naloxone. Anyone can buy it.

The over-the-counter drug can be administered in different forms (nasal spray, through a syringe), and has a variety of price points. It is also covered under some health insurance plans.

News 3’s Merris Badcock went to Hampton Health Mart Pharmacy, and picked up the narcan nasal spray in under ten minutes, without a prescription.

The drug did cost her $120 however because of her current health care plan. Residents should be prepared to pay up to $150 for the nasal spray if they have no health care coverage.

Not everyone thinks those who have needed narcan repeatedly are taking advantage of EMS’ resources or the good Samaritans who choose to take action and buy it on their own.

“I’m sure there is a small segment that does believe that because this drug is out there...but I think for the vast majority of people, [narcan] has no influence on their decision to use opiates or not.”

Virginia Beach EMS officials offer classes on how to administer narcan. For more information on “REVIVE!” Training Course: Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education classes call (757) 385-0800.

Space is limited to about 20 individuals, but the class is FREE. The next date for the class is January 24th.