AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – An Aurora police officer saved a man’s life just one month after being trained and given the opioid and heroin reversal drug called naloxone. It’s part of Colorado’s fight to combat the explosive heroin epidemic.
With a dose of medicine that sprays into a person’s nose, Officer Francine Martinez made the department’s first naloxone save.
The officer walked into a King Soopers bathroom when she found a man overdosing on heroin. She saw needles and the man’s arm tied off with a belt.
“He was slumped over with his head propped against the wall of the stall,” said Martinez. “He was purple in color and I couldn’t tell if he was breathing or not.”
Martinez says at one point she heard him take a small breath and knew the man was still alive.
Martinez, who was also an EMT in her career, laid the 23-year-old on the floor and sprayed the naloxone into his nose. The man survived. He was clean for 49 days when he relapsed Sunday.
The Colorado Attorney General’s Office says there is an opioid/heroin-related overdose every 9 hours and 24 minutes in the state. That is why police officers are now equipped with a double dose box of naloxone, the lifesaving drug that reverses those type of overdoses.
Since January police officers like Martinez have saved more than 170 lives. With an overdose, seconds make the difference between life and death. Police are often the first responders, even before paramedics.
“It’s really nice to have naloxone because you’re not just standing there thinking, ‘Oh gosh, what can I do?” Martinez said.
The attorney general’s office says the “Naloxone for Life” program costs $265,000, which purchased about 2,500 dual-dose boxes of naloxone for police officers across the state. It is funded by settlements with pharmaceutical companies designed to use for public health initiatives.