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Memphis Fire Department Paying More for Narcan to Fight Overdoses

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - 2,482. That is how many doses of Naloxone (Narcan) the Memphis Fire Department has projected they will use on suspected opiate overdose patients in 2017.

Recent data, provided by MFD, showed the projected 2,482 doses translates to 2,146 patients. 

Among the patients MFD treated in 2017 was a 19-day-old infant. The oldest patient so far this year was 99-years-old.

In 2010, MFD administered 726 doses of Narcan to 677 patients.

Like communities across the United States, Memphians are suffering from the opioid epidemic. With no signs of overdoses slowing down, Memphis first responders are doing what they can to stay ahead of it.

"We could make 10 to 20 overdoses a day. Some days we don't get any," said Adrian McCreight, a Memphis Firefighter paramedic.

Over the course of nearly 8 years with MFD, McCreight has witnessed the growing number of overdoses. 

"Yes, it does get emotionally draining to see people go down that path, but you know we're here to help. We're not here to judge," said McCreight.

MFD Deputy Chief of Emergency Medical Services Pam Kiestler shared a heat map that indicates the areas where MFD has responded to overdoses, virtually every neighborhood has been touched.

The Deputy Chief said they've seen this growing trend coming. She pointed to the growing presence of fentanyl

Narcan is an antidote that can reverse an opiate overdose. According to Kiestler, Narcan has been a longtime fixture on EMS vehicles, but now it is in high demand.

"So, the price we paid per syringe in 2010 was $11.70. We currently pay $35.88, but that's actually at a 30% off the list price," said Deputy Chief Kiestler.

The dollar signs mount up. In addition to the drug, the tools to administer the drug cost too, bringing the total to $44 per kit. MFD purchases the Narcan along with a mucosal atomizer device or IV kit.

"We spent with what we administered to patients and what we had in stock in 2010 approximately $12,000. This year we're expected to spend about $128,000," said Kiestler.

Memphis Fire stocks the life-saving resource on every piece of equipment. They can't afford not to.

"So far, we've been able to rearrange things or delay things to make sure that all the needs are met, but there's not an endless supply of dollars to go around. And nobody knows how big this problem is going to get," said Kiestler.

In addition to increasing stock, within the last year, MFD put a parameter in place - a low set point that automatically triggers a reorder whether they are seeing an uptick or not.

The deputy chief said their key to fighting overdoses right now is listening to the data they have at hand and acting.     

As the MFD, gets its budget ready for FY 2019, officials expect a 50%, or greater, increase in the number of Narcan administrations next year.


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