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After Fuquay-Varina man's death, family pushes for expanded availability of overdose drug

Posted December 16, 2016

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— In 2016, 312 lives were saved in North Carolina by a nasal spray.

The nasal spray contains a drug called Naloxone, also known as Narcan, which can resuscitate someone who has overdosed on heroin.

EMS workers carry it, however not all law enforcement agencies do because it is expensive and, in many cases, EMS arrive on scene before police officers.

But one Fuquay-Varina family is making a plea to local law enforcement to not leave a person's life up to chance.

"He was a great person. His funeral was standing room only," said Brett Nelson of his brother Trevor.

Trevor Nelson, 29, died Dec. 1 from a heroin overdose. The family immediately knew they needed to do something to prevent more deaths.

"It became such an epidemic that more people have died from heroin than gun violence," Brett Nelson said.

Nationally, addiction to prescription painkillers has led to people seeking heroin when their prescription drugs run out. According to the Center for Disease Control, heroin overdose deaths have tripled in the country since 2010.

"It's such a secret," Nelson said. "That will be the number one thing they will hide from the people closest to them."

Nelson's family has an online petition asking that all law enforcement agencies carry Narcan.

"Narcan can give someone that chance, to change in that moment," Nelson said.

EMS workers in North Carolina carry the antidote.

"What Narcan can go in and do is remove that signal to the brain that shuts it down so that that person can continue breathing again," said Wake County EMS spokesperson Jeff Hammerstein.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said saving lives in a priority.

"We have so many overdoses throughout the county," he said.

The Wake County Sheriff's Office is one of the first agencies to give the drug to its patrol officers. They purchased 140 doses at a cost of $10,500, or $75 a piece. The drug is used when law enforcement arrives before EMS.

"Just last week I had seven overdoses in a weeks’ time. Seven overdoses and I think two of the people died," Harrison said.

Families like the Nelsons say they hope law enforcement agencies will make this a priority in 2017.

"In the U.S. it is time to talk about it, it is time to not make a choice. At what point, how many lives need to be lost," Nelson said.

While Fuquay-Varina police responded to Trevor Nelson's overdose, EMS arrived on scene first and were not able to save his life.

Police Chief Laura Fahnestock said she is looking into purchasing Narcan after six heroin overdoses in her town in the last few weeks. Two of them were fatal.

Currently, 125 law enforcement agencies across North Carolina are carrying Narcan.

4 Comments

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  • Scooter Barrette Dec 18, 10:46 a.m.
    user avatar

    Are you sure that saving a few dollars at the end of the year is more important than saving another person's life? Is that's what Jesus would have wanted? You people care more about your wallets than actually doing any sort of good in the world. Aren't willing to sacrifice anything.

  • Herman Shaw Dec 18, 8:47 a.m.
    user avatar

    The law enforcement cannot handle to laws they are suppose to enforce. The noise of radios. The drugs dealers and welfare fraud. How are they suppose to do medical services,too. If a law officer gives the drug and the person dies, who is responsible for the death? If a person is using heroin, somebody including family knows about drug usage. So, they should be charged ,too. If drugs become a cancer, drugs may disappear. But our about to former president, said drug usage and possession should not be a crime. Obama said drug arrests target a certain race. If I said that, I would be called race profiling or races.

  • Mike Pittman Dec 17, 5:00 p.m.
    user avatar

    Sorry, there is nothing wrong with what Mr. Powell said, once Narcan becomes available for sale over the counter (as I'm sure it will), taxpayers should not be the one's having to pay for it. Addiction or not, if YOU CHOOSE to spend your money on heroin, then YOU SHOULD have to pay for that Narcan dose to be carried around in your pocket.

  • Jerry Powell Dec 16, 9:52 p.m.
    user avatar

    Anybody can get it without a prescription. Why does it always fall on somebody else (in this case the taxpayers) to provide what is readily available to all??