Take a drive on I-575 between Sixes Road and Riverstone Parkway and you may just notice a sign referring to drug addiction. This is a visual reminder that drug addiction is real, and it is real in our community. It occurs more often than most are aware. However, medical personnel and law enforcement officials are more than familiar with the lethal hand that drug addiction so often deals. In 2013 the Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services was called out to over 120 drug overdoses.
The sad truth is that lives have been lost out of fear in some of these cases. Retired Holly Springs police lieutenant Tanya Smith lost her 20 year old daughter to a drug-induced asthma attack in September of 2013. It is highly likely that her death could have been prevented had 911 been called. With the help of emergency medical attention she may have been provided the life saving support she needed. Instead, bystanders were afraid of the negative consequences that may have been related, and out of fear they made the choice not to call for emergency help.
In the aftermath and grieving of her daughter’s death, Ms. Smith helped support the Georgia 9-1-1 Medical Amnesty Law (HB 965). This law allows for bystanders to call 911 for help without the fear of being arrested themselves. It also allows for first responders to deliver the life saving drug called Naloxone. This drug acts as an antidote for overdoses of heroin and other opiates.
This law was signed into effect on April 24, 2014. In the months following the passage of this law, lives have been saved and numerous first responders have been trained to deliver a Naloxone. Within our own Sixes Living readership area, Woodstock Police Department officers were trained to administer Naloxone in the early part of September. In the past, they were unable to deliver this life saving drug and could only provide CPR and wait for more qualified personnel to arrive in order to administer this drug. In 2013 the Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services administered Naloxone in 50 of the drug overdose calls they responded to.
The training for the deliver of Naloxone/Narcan has already made a direct impact on the life of a fortunate citizen in Woodstock. Within a few days of the training, Woodstock Officer Shane Bonebrake was able to administer a life saving dose to a woman that was unresponsive. After being dispatched and arriving at the scene, Officer Bonebrake discovered that the woman was unresponsive and had an extremely low respiratory rate. The delivery of the Naloxone/Narcan helped her regain consciousness within a short period of time, and she was transported for further medical attention. A press release regarding this incident was shared via Nixle.
Funding for the Woodstock officers training, which included AED use, was provided in part by the Woodstock Public Safety Foundation. When referring to the provision of this training, Police Chief Calvin W. Moss stated, “Patrol officers are often first to arrive on scene to an emergency call. Adding this life saving medication to the officers’ tools enhances our ability to help and protect our citizen.”
In addition to the Woodstock Police Department receiving training on this, the Kennesaw State University police have also received training for on campus emergency situations. Make sure you share and discuss the importance of HB-965. For additional information regarding this law, read the article in the Sixes Living Magazine that was written by Sixes community resident and State House Representative for District 21, Scot Turner.