Mayor Joseph P. Ganim Fire Department
Bridgeport, CT Chief Richard Thode
For Immediate Release For More Information:
September 22, 2016 Av Harris (203) 814-7992
Mayor Ganim, Bridgeport Fire Department Accept Major Donation of 400 Narcan Kits to Stop Opiate Overdose
Greater Bridgeport Area Prevention Program Provides Narcan to Fire Department; Medication can be administered Nasally to Stop Overdose
Youtube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M57YkVY14jk&feature=youtu.be
Bridgeport, CT – Mayor Joe Ganim today joined Bridgeport Fire Department officials to in accepting a major donation of 400 kits containing the medication Narcan which can stop an overdose from opiate-based narcotics. The donation came to the Bridgeport Fire Department from the Greater Bridgeport Area Prevention Program (GBAPP), a local nonprofit that operates a clean needle exchange for heroin users and also received the hundreds of doses of Narcan from the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Narcan is administered nasally and can stop the symptoms of an opiate-based overdose such as the slowness of breathing and pulse to fatal levels, preventing death from overdose. Bridgeport Fire officials estimate that roughly one third of all medical calls they respond to every day in Bridgeport are caused by drug overdose, totaling nearly 60 per month.
“Opioid addiction is a national health epidemic, and getting Narcan into the hands of our first responders will literally save lives,” said Mayor Ganim. “Bridgeport fire fighters and police officers deal with hundreds of overdose cases every year and this generous donation of life saving Narcan will help us prevent opiate users from succumbing to their addiction so we can get them into treatment. Heroin and other opiates are cheaper to obtain, more addictive and more lethal than ever, and we are seeing the impact of this in our city and across the region. We are very grateful to the generosity and partnership of GBAPP in fighting hard to keep our residents safe and healthy.”
“Firefighters are out in the city of Bridgeport saving lives every day, in every way possible. We respond to heart attack victims with defibrillators, deliver babies, and unfortunately deal with heroin and other opiate overdoses,” said Bridgeport Fire Chief Richard Thode. “In our entire department we see once or twice a day a Bridgeport firefighter literally bringing someone back from the brink of death from an overdose by using Narcan. This is happening not only in cities, but small towns all over the state. This generous donation allows us to expand our capability and get more life saving medication into the hands of the end user, which is the firefighter.”
“We have seen a very sharp increase in the rate of usage for heroin among the people using the needle exchange,” said Reverend Nancy Kingwood, Deputy Director of GBAPP. “It is critical that we come together in partnership with the city of Bridgeport and provide Narcan to first responders, because at the end of the day it is about saving lives.”
Bridgeport Police Chief AJ Perez said, “We are seeing many people in Bridgeport addicted to prescription drugs such as oxycontin, which is synthetic heroin. When the prescription runs out and they can’t get any more, they are turning to street-level heroin which we are finding is mixed with all kinds of drugs such as fentanyl. Dealers don’t care, they just want to make money, so they will sell you anything. Many times we see addicts who are injecting themselves with fentanyl thinking it is heroin when it’s not, resulting in very serious overdoses. This is a dangerous combination and that is why it is critical to have Narcan available for first responders. We are very grateful for the donation of these 400 Narcan kits from GBAPP. This will help us save lives.”
Across the state of Connecticut this year and in the city of Bridgeport, overdose deaths are nearly double what they were in 2015. President Obama has also declared this week National Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week.