One east Dayton man has been revived by nalaxone 20 times by police, but a Dayton police major still doesn’t agree with a Middletown politician suggesting law enforcement stop responding to opioid overdoses.
“We’ve Narcan’d the same guy 20 times,” Dayton police Major Brian Johns said. “There has to be some sort of mechanism or place for people like that. If you’re not going to get help, we’re going to require you to get some sort of treatment going. Because that is a waste of police resources.”
But Johns doesn’t think Middletown City Council member Dan Picard was on the right track when Picard asked if it was possible for that city to not respond to such calls.
An addict “obviously doesn’t care much about his life, but he’s expending a lot of resources, and we can’t afford it,” Picard said during a council meeting last week in which Middletown officials said they would spend $100,000 on Narcan after only budgeting $10,000 for 2017.
“I disagree with it,” Johns said of Picard’s notion. “I know Narcan isn’t the answer. But, as law enforcement, we took an oath to protect life and where do you stop?
“If I’m obese and I go have McDonald’s once a week and eat cheeseburgers, are you not going to do CPR on me because I have poor dietary habits? I don’t think he’s educated in regards to the issue.”
As his comments have reverberated around the globe and he’s granted more than 40 media interviews, Picard this week said he has “no regrets” despite threats, prank calls and rude comments.
“I want to send a message to the world that you don’t want to come to Middletown to overdose because someone might not come with Narcan and save your life,” Picard said. “We need to put a fear about overdosing in Middletown.”
Johns said Dayton police follow up on overdose victims and have one full-time officer dedicated to doing so. But Johns said there are so many OD victims that some get visits and others get letters with information about treatment options.
Johns said he has personally visited the man — whom police won’t identify — to try to understand what is going on and to urge the man to get help.
“He’ll say, “It was just an accident. I didn’t know what I was getting. I’ll go into treatment’ and then he never follows up,” Johns said, who said the man has a girlfriend and/or sisters who call 911. “If you think just not going is the answer, that’s not the answer.”
Johns said that other follow-ups had unexpected benefits.
“You’d go to a house — and even if the person who overdosed wasn’t there — addiction was rampant in the household,” Johns said. “I went to one guy’s house; he’d overdosed in front of his kids and he wasn’t there and we spoke to his wife and stuff and she ended up being an addict herself. … Luckily, we ended up getting both the man and the woman into treatment.”
Dr. Scott Rasmus, the executive director of Butler County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Services, also disagreed with Picard’s comments.
“My thought is that if a life is at risk, why wouldn’t you do everything in your power to try to save that life?” Rasmus asked. “Obviously it’s a life and we need to support life, but we need to look at the alternatives.”
Fentanyl and its analogs are chiefly responsible for 372 overdose deaths in Montgomery County through May 2017 — which already passed 2016’s total of 349. Johns said the region’s heroin problem has become a fentanyl problem.
“It’s stronger and people want it more,” Johns said. “But it’s so very lethal. But how it’s cut is so important so many folks are dying from it. It’s insane.”
Drugs so dangerous officers and prosecutors fear being around them. In Sunday’s newspaper, we dig deeper into fentanyl and its synthetic cousins causing a rapid increase in federal prosecutions.