William F. Spillane
Acting Chief of Department, CFO
436 Washington St.
Dedham, MA 02026
For Immediate Release
Monday, August 25, 2014
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Dedham Fire Department Announces Success of Narcan Program
Five Potentially-Fatal Overdoses Reversed Since April
DEDHAM — Acting Fire Chief William F. Spillane is pleased to announce that the Dedham Fire Department has successfully reversed five potentially-fatal heroin and opioid overdoses since the department started carrying Nasal Naloxone (Narcan) in April.
“Addiction and overdose are unfortunate realities that our firefighters encounter on a regular basis,” Chief Spillane said. “We wish that these poisons would go away from our communities, but with a tool like Narcan, we can at least reverse their effects in the moment.”
Last October, Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey made a presentation to the Norfolk County Fire Chiefs Association, discussing the problem of heroin and opioids in our communities. District Attorney Morrissey laid out a plan to offer fire departments and police departments Narcan training and supplies to help reverse the disturbing trend of overdose deaths. He pointed to a pilot program in the Quincy Police Department, which successfully used Narcan 223 times between October 2010 and April 2014.
He also noted the fact that there had been 60 confirmed opioid-related deaths in Norfolk County in 2013.
In March, Chief Spillane attended a “Train the Trainer” program conducted by District Attorney Morrissey’s office. All Dedham Fire Department apparatus and command vehicles were issued Narcan on April 1.
It was needed soon afterward. On April 4, the Dedham Fire Department used Narcan for the first time, to successfully reverse a drug overdose in a patient.
“I am proud that the Dedham Fire Department has embraced Narcan as a lifesaving tool. Firefighters are often the first emergency medical responders on the scene of an overdose, and now we are equipped to deal with these unfortunate situations,” said Firefighter Steve MacDougall, President of the Dedham Firefighters Local 1735, who was the first Dedham firefighter to administer Narcan during an overdose, when he responded on April 4.
Since then, the Fire Department has used Narcan four additional times to bring patients out of a potentially-fatal overdose.
Chief Spillane now sits on 10-chief advisory group to the Governor’s Opiate Task Force. The chiefs meet with members of Governor Deval Patrick’s team on a regular basis to discuss the effects and impacts being felt by local departments while dealing with the opiate abuse problem.
Opioid overdose is currently one of the leading causes of death in Massachusetts, and no community has been immune to the problem. Governor Deval Patrick declared it a public health crisis in March.
Narcan is just one tool that the Town of Dedham has brought to bear on the opioid crisis. The Dedham Police Department actively investigates violations of drug laws, and they offer a MedReturn Drop Box at the Dedham Police Station, where members of the public can safely discard their unneeded or unwanted prescription drugs.
Dedham has also created The Dedham Coalition for Drug and Alcohol Awareness, which provides education and resources for drug addicts and families of addicts. A pamphlet about the Coalition was recently included in all Dedham sewer bills, to help spread the word.
“We wish there was no need for Narcan, but as a community we cannot afford to ignore what’s out there,” said Dedham Interim Town Manager Nancy Baker. “Heroin and opioids are a problem in every community in the Commonwealth, and we will continue to come together to educate the public, bring drug dealers and suppliers to justice, and rescue victims of the stranglehold of opioids whenever necessary.”