The North Myrtle Beach Department of Public Safety’s Fire Rescue Division will become the fourth fire department in the state to carry and administer Narcan, a drug used to reverse the effects of opiate overdose.
Emergency medical technicians with North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach fire departments are now able to use the drug to revive people suspected of overdoses on drugs such as heroin and Fentanyl and prescription medications Vicodin, Dilaudid, Demerol and Percocet.
Previously, only certified paramedics were allowed to administer the life-saving drug in South Carolina, according to a release from North Myrtle Beach city spokesman Pat Dowling. But now the S.C. Department of Health & Environmental Control has approved Narcan to be used by EMTs under the direction of the department’s medical director.
Narcan is used when individuals are found to exhibit the signs of a potential overdose, specifically when subjects are found to be unresponsive, have little or no respiration and have pinpoint pupils.
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The drug can be administered either by a nasal spray or intravenously.
North Myrtle Beach EMTs will use the spray method, delivering Narcan when needed through a misting device. The drug quickly reduces the effects of opioids in the body, according to the release.
In 2013, opioid overdoses claimed almost 24,500 lives, an average of one life every 21 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since March 2016, NMB detectives have logged 30 known overdoses of heroin and/or Fentanyl, a more potent drug sometimes sold as heroin. Four were fatal, according to the release. The statistic does not include any opioid-based medications.
According to DHEC, there are currently only three other fire departments in South Carolina that allow their EMTs to administer Narcan.
The Myrtle Beach Fire Department also recently began to carry Narcan.
In 2015, Horry County was second in the state for Narcan use, following Greenville County, where medical officials administered the drug 709 times, according to the release.
The numbers this year for Narcan use in Horry County have already surpassed what Greenville County did during all of 2015 and will likely exceed 1,000 by the end of the year, according to the North Myrtle Beach fire department.