WILLITS, 5/1/19 — One man died and another was hospitalized in a double overdose incident very early Monday morning in Redwood Valley. The two men, one 50 years old and the other 61, were at a residence in the 7900 block of Pinecrest Dr. and overdosed on opioids, likely heroin.
Around 12:25 a.m. deputies were dispatched to the scene and upon arriving administered Narcan, the brand name for Naloxone, a medication which can treat the effects of an opioid overdose, and which has very recently been issued to Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) deputies as part of their standard equipment.
The younger of the two died, while the older man survived after being administered four doses of Narcan as a nasal spray. The younger man also received Narcan, but by the time deputies and then paramedics had arrived, he already had an extremely low heart rate. The 911 call was made soon after a small earthquake woke up much of Mendocino, including the witness who called authorities, after being roused by the tremor and seeing the two men were in distress. Redwood Valley Fire also responded, and a local ambulance.
Mendocino County ranked third in the state, for the rate of opioid overdose deaths, behind Modoc and Humboldt counties, in 2017 (the last year for which there is available data), with 19.3 deaths per 100,000 people.
The MCSO announced on April 25 that they would be issuing Narcan to all field officers and jail staff, and this incident represents the first instance of the drug being used in the field, by deputies in Mendocino County. Lt. Shannon Barney of the MCSO explained, in an interview, that all MCSO field officers now carry Narcan, and were issued two nasal spray containers, which in turn each contain two doses, for a total of four doses carried by each deputy.
He elaborated that the department is recommending that deputies carry all four doses on them, because, depending on the amount opioids consumed and the size of the person, it can sometimes take several doses of Narcan for the treatment to be effective in preventing overdose.
The treatment was provided to the MCSO without cost by the Mendocino County Public Health Department through a grant from the California Department of Public Health.
Barney explained that part of the reason for carrying Narcan is for deputies who are accidently exposed to powerful opioids like fentanyl either through the skin or by breathing in a powder. Said Barney, “The biggest problem is coming into an environment and inhaling… Nationwide, the biggest problem has been inhaling it in powder form.” He added that he doesn’t know of any law enforcement in the area who have encountered this problem.
Barney went on to talk about the increased prevelance of fentanyl in the toxicology reports of people who die over overdoses, “We’re starting to see in our coroners’ cases; a lot more fentanyl coming up in the tox-screen.”
Speaking about the Narcan Barney said, “I’m just glad we have it, so that if we do come across cases like this, we can save somebody, or if a deputy gets affected by this.” He noted that the distances in our county are so great that waiting for an ambulance to arrive, or to be driven to the hospital for treatment, might take too long to save a person.
In Mendocino County, there are a number of different organizations addressing drug and alcohol abuse, but the main one focusing on opioid addiction is called Safe Rx Mendocino. Safe Rx Mendocino is a coalition of different government and private agencies working to address opioid use in Mendocino County, with coalitions in Ukiah and Fort Bragg. The organization provides education and outreach about opioid use, advocates for integrated treatment options, and works to reduce addiction and stigma. Safe Rx Mendocino also provides information about local drug treatment resources and ways to help out. More information about the coalition can be found at their website and Facebook page.
Here is the full press release from the MCSO:
DATE: “May 1, 2019”MCSO
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
NARCAN Medical Aid
7900 block Pinecrest Drive in Redwood Valley, CA
Date of Incident:
Adult Male (50 year-old from Willits, CA)
Adult Male (61 year-old from Redwood Valley, CA)
Sgt. James L. Wells #2420
On 04-29-2019 at about 12:25 am, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to a possible overdose situation at a residence in the 7900 block of Pinecrest Drive in Redwood Valley, California.
Deputies were advised there were possible two victims at the residence who had ingested illicit drugs and had become unresponsive. The Redwood Valley Fire Department and an ambulance from a local provider were also dispatched to the residence.
Sheriff’s Deputies arrived at the residence and immediately began rendering aid to the two adult male victims (50 year-old and 61 year-old).
Sheriff’s Deputies administered at least four separate 4 milligram dosage units of NARCAN to the 61 year-old male and he responded to the opioid antidote medication and began to awaken.
Redwood Valley Fire Department and ambulance personnel arrived and took over further life saving efforts. The 61 year-old male was transported by ambulance to the Ukiah Valley Medical Center for further medical treatment.
The 50 year-old male had a very weak pulse, was not breathing and was also given NARCAN while life saving measures were started. Unfortunately these efforts were unsuccessful and the 50 year-old male was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene.
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) recently began to issue NARCAN® (Naloxone HCI) nasal spray dosage units to its employees as part of their assigned personal protective equipment.
MCSO’s goal is in protecting the public and officers from opioid overdoses. Access to naloxone is now considered vital in the U.S. The Center for Disease Control.
The California Opioid Overdose Surveillance Dashboard reports Mendocino County ranking, per capita, 3rd in all opioid overdose deaths. (https://discovery.cdph.ca.gov/CDIC/ODdash/)
Narcan nasal spray units are widely known to reverse opioid overdose situations in adults and children. Each nasal spray device contains a four milligram dose, according to the manufacturer.
Naloxone Hydrochloride, more commonly known by the brand name NARCAN®, blocks the life-threatening effects of opioid overdose (both medications and narcotics) including extreme drowsiness, slowed breathing, or loss of consciousness.
The antidote can reverse the effects of an overdose for up to an hour, but anyone who administers the overdose reversal medication in a non-medical setting is advised to seek emergency medical help right away.
The spray units can also be used by Public Safety Professionals who are unknowingly or accidentally exposed to potentially fatal amounts of fentanyl from skin absorption or inhalation.
The issuance of the Narcan nasal units, thus far, have been to employees assigned to the Field Services Division and the Mendocino County Jail medical staff.
Employees are required to attend user training prior to being issued the medication.
Sheriff Thomas D. Allman would like to thank the Mendocino County HHSA Public Health for providing the Narcan nasal units to the Sheriff’s Office free of charge as part of the Free Narcan Grant from the California Department of Public Health.
Captain Gregory L. Van Patten #1184
Previous coverage of Narcan: