EMS: Surge of Fentanyl overdoses, not enough medical supplies to save it all


MCALLEN, TX (ValleyCentral) – Med-Care EMS shared with ValleyCentral that they have seen approximately 300 fentanyl overdose patients in the past year. They expect that number to increase even more during 2022.

Richard Becerra, clinical coordinator for Med-Care EMS, said they generally find that the drug has an impact on patients between the ages of 20 and 50.

According to Becerra, fentanyl is a good opioid when it comes to relieving pain and making you feel “euphoric,” but taking too much will cause your heart rate and breathing to drop where you may stop breathing.

500 micrograms of Fentanyl can cause overdose. It will take one to two minutes for fentanyl to kick in, then five to six minutes for a person to go into cardiac arrest. Becerra added that at this point it is difficult to resuscitate a patient.

The main problem Med-Care faces is that their ambulance units only carry two doses of Narcan, a drug that has the opposite effect on fentanyl.

“In some cases the patient ingested such a high amount of fentanyl that two doses were not enough to reverse the symptoms, so we had to take them to the hospital where they can have access to more Narcan,” Becerra said. .

It is suggested to keep Narcan at home in case of an emergency.

According to CDC, Narcan nasal spray is available in all states. You can either speak with your doctor about a prescription or receive Narcan at major non-prescription pharmacies such as Walmart, CVS, and Kroger.

Becerra commented that fentanyl is a ‘potent’ drug which, by the time a patient overdoses, ‘there is nothing you can do to reverse it and if you have someone near you who can administer Narcan, it is is fine, but if it is not then it can be fatal.

If you have Narcan in your home, Becerra recommends that you let your guests know in advance, as you cannot apply Narcan nasal spray on yourself.

Rehabilitation sites are also encouraged as professional therapists are trained to help patients recover safely.

The recovery process includes patient intake and assessment, detoxification, drug treatment and follow-up.

Receiving and assessing patients is a critical step in the rehabilitation process, as addiction specialists will learn more about a patient’s individual situation, physical and mental health issues, and potential barriers to recovery in order to to determine the best treatment.

Rehabilitation typically lasts 90 days, depending on the American addiction centers.

Detox sites in the valley include the HTX Drug Treatment Center – Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation (Harlingen), Narconon New Start Texas (Harlingen), The Sendero Group, SARL (McAllen), and Detoxification and recovery center (Brownsville).

For free, confidential help from public health agencies in finding drug addiction treatment, you can also call the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Hotline at 1-800-662-4357. .

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