OLD MYSTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — First responders are often the first called when there is an overdose or other emergency related to the opioid epidemic and they like the families see the effects first hand.
“As we were wheeling the person out into the ambulance on the stretcher the young son was looking out the window just totally terrified and stuff like that sticks with the first responders,” said Chief Kenneth Richards of the Old Mystic Fire Department.
That type of impact is what has prompted the Connecticut Fire Chiefs Association to be the first to put out a position statement.
It praises the efforts of lawmakers, law enforcement, and medical personel but calls for more action.
In part it reads, “We also acutely recognize that our ministrations will have no impact holistically unless others do their jobs in concert with us. This is our watch – and yours.”
Related Content: Narcan to be available on all Connecticut state college campuses
“We’ve responded to approximately five heroin overdoses over the summer,” said Chief Richards. “I’ve personally administered Narcan to one of the victims which was in a local restaurant. It affects all walks of life.”
Even their own have been affected. Two of the association’s members have personal experiences with the opioid crisis in their families. The fire chiefs want to see laws on the books enforced, and stronger laws created locally and federally.
The position statement goes on to say, “Once the supply and valueless chain is broken at multiple linkages, demand will drop precipitously, alternate growers and growing sources will get the message, and impact will finally be chartered.”
“We know that over 90 percent of the heroin coming into the country is out of Afghanistan [from] the poppy fields and we’re over there with our military people and here’s poppy fields that are affecting 50,000 people a year in our country and we’re just turning a blind eye to them,” said Chief Richards.
Related Content: States ask insurers to prioritize non-opioid pain treatment
The crisis has also put first responders in danger.
“One of his partners had it on his shoulder and he just brushed it off and got it on the back of his hand and went down,” said Chief Richards referring to what happened to a Maryland police officer who had to be administered Narcan at the police department.