On Saturday, October 8th, police in Lancaster, Pennsylvania responded to a call concerning a teenager who had overdosed on heroin. Police and paramedics were able to revive the girl after administering four doses of naloxone, but after learning she obtained the drugs from her father, they arrested him on an unrelated bench warrant.
A Tragic Scene
Officer Erik Stroup responded a call placed by a woman who identified herself as the girl’s grandmother at 5:30 PM on October 8th. When he arrived, he found the girl unconscious and unresponsive, and she didn’t seem to be breathing. He also found two baggies of heroin sitting nearby on the girl’s bed. Officer Stroup administered a nasal dose of naloxone, which had no apparent effect. When paramedics arrived, they administered three doses of naloxone intravenously, which successfully revived the girl, and she was admitted to the hospital to receive additional observation and treatment.
Officers in Lancaster County began carrying naloxone (which carries the brand name Narcan) after the overdose death rate in the county increased by 33% between 2014 and 2015, compared to the average rate of overdose death rate increase for the state during that period, which was 23%. In response to these statistics, the District Attorney’s office distributed 388 doses to law enforcement, ensuring that all of the county’s active police vehicles were carrying naloxone.
Naloxone is a drug that is used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose, and can be credited with saving the girl’s life. In the year following the initial dispersal of Narcan to Lancaster officers, 100 replacement doses were sent to police, and fifty-six documented instances of naloxone effectively reversing opioid overdose. According to police records, in 83% of cases where naloxone was administered by first responders, the individual who was overdosing survived thanks to the anti-overdose drug.
After the girl had been successfully revived thanks to the naloxone, she told police she received the heroin from her father after she had asked him for it, a statement that was corroborated by another witness. The girl’s father, Kerry L. Long, is a 35 year old resident of Lancaster County. In the past, he has been arrested for several charges, including criminal mischief and felony burglary. After his daughter told police that she had acquired the drugs from Long, Long was arrested under an unrelated bench warrant.
Long subsequently admitted to police that he had purchased the two bags of heroin and given both to his daughter. Long was charged with endangering the welfare of a child and corruption of a minor, in addition to several drug-related offenses. After being arraigned, he was admitted to Lancaster County Prison, and his bail set at one million dollars. His preliminary hearing was set for Friday, October 21st.
Addiction: A National Epidemic
While police credit naloxone for saving the lives of dozens of overdose victims, heroin abuse continues to be a problem for Pennsylvania, with over half of overdoses last year caused by the opioid. Although naloxone can prove life-saving, opioid abuse continues to run rampant, and in instances where stronger opioids like fentanyl contribute to overdose, extra doses of naloxone may prove necessary.