After Fuquay-Varina man's death, family pushes for expanded availability of overdose drug
Posted December 16, 2016
Fuquay-Varina, N.C. — 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.