Officer's NARCAN use saves overdose victim


CAIRO — An overdose victim is still alive after a police officer administered an emergency medication early Sunday morning.

Cairo Police Department Investigator Giovannie Santos was on his way home from duty at around 1:20 a.m. when he overheard a 911 dispatch for a heroin overdose at a residence on the 300 block of Peebles Still Road.

Though the residence was outside the police department's area of jurisdiction, Santos found himself on Highway 84 just a few miles away from the incident and armed with NARCAN, a life-saving nasal spray medication that sheriff's deputies didn't have.

Santos headed straight to the scene where he found the victim, a 39-year-old white female, unconscious and not breathing on the bedroom floor. The victim's skin appeared pale and she had a weak pulse.

"Her lips were almost blue," Santos said.

Santos quickly administered the NARCAN to the victim.

After about one minute, the victim took a deep breath and her pulse began to strengthen. Several minutes later, she regained consciousness.

The victim was transported to Grady General Hospital, where she recovered.

Medical technicians told law enforcement the victim likely would not have survived the ordeal without the medication considering the time it would have taken for them to reach the residence.

"Without that NARCAN, she would have most likely been deceased by the time they got to her," said Lt. Michael Logue, Grady County Sheriff's Office.

In 25 years with the police department, Santos said he's never had to use NARCAN on an overdose victim.

"It's amazing to me how sometimes the stars line up in just the right way and you're able to be there at the right time to make a difference," Santos said.

Naloxone, packaged as a nasal spray as NARCAN, is used by first responders to reverse the life-threatening effects of opioid or heroin overdoses.

Police Chief Keith Sandefur said the police department first began using the medication two years ago in response to the opioid epidemic.

The victim had been visiting the residence where the incident occurred.

When Santos arrived, he found a used un-stoppered needle and a homemade tourniquet on the floor. A makeup bag containing drug paraphernalia was also found.

A later search of the residence uncovered heroin residue and a bottle of unidentified pills which were seized for destruction.

State law protects victims of overdoses and individuals who call 911 to report overdoses from being charged with a crime. Due to the law, no charges will be filed in relation to the incident.

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