2017-11-23 / Front Page

Heroin overdoses treated just in time; 2 men recuperating

Brought back from near death
By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

Two Peshawbestown men this week became the first people “saved” by county deputies in the escalating war against opiates.

The men, age 26 and 30, were found unresponsive about 11:30 p.m. Saturday in a home on the reservation of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

Tribal police responded with assistance from deputy Steve Bailey, the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Office’s designated officer for Leelanau Township.

“When (Bailey) got there, he thought one of the men was dead,” Sheriff Mike Borkovich said. “They were believed to be heroin overdoses.”

The quick thinking deputy went to his vehicle and retrieved two doses of nasal NARCAN, which he administered to the men with help from Tribal offier George Preston.

NARCAN, also known as naloxone, is an opiate antidote that blocks the effects of opioids to reverse the effects of an overdose.

The incident marked the first time the drug has been used by county law local enforcement members to save an overdose victim.

The drug, administered through the nose, was provided free-of-charge 1 1/2 years ago to the Sheriff’s Office by Catholic Human Services along with training.

The agency offered the department injectable doses in 2015. However, Borkovich declined, waiting for a less intrusive method.

“I didn’t want something that pierced the skin. So I waited for the nasal version,” the Sheriff said.

Both victims regained semi-consciousness and were transported to Munson Medical Center via Suttons Bay Fire & Rescue for further treatment.

Their lives are Nos. 56 and 57 recorded as the result of Catholic Human Services (CHS) drug prevention program, which has trained and provided NARCAN to 55 agencies from a 21-county service area from M-55 north to the Mackinac Bridge.

With more than $40,000 in grant funding from the Northern Michigan Regional Entity (NMRE) the agency has provided training and enough of the antidote for all patrol cars throughout its service area.

Each Leelanau squad car carries two doses of NARCAN designated for overdoses. And depending on whether the drug consumed was mixed with Fentanyl or Carfentanil, which can be 10,000 times more potent than morphine, more than one dose may be needed.

“It used to be people didn’t think there was a heroin problem in northern Michigan,” said Laurie Ames, certified Certified Prevention Specialist, with CHS. “If you believe that, you’ve got your head in the sand.”

The first year the drug was available to law enforcement, 33 overdoses were reversed.

“There have been 24 so far this year and we anticipate this number climbing over the holidays,” Ames said.

Law enforcement in Grand Traverse, Wexford and Iosco County already have a good number of “saves” on the books.

Ames said opioid addiction crosses all age and race groups. She provided the following statistics:

 The largest number of overdoses are in the 25- to 30-year-old age group.

 The highest number of heroin arrests are made between the ages of 35 and 55.

 The fastest growing population becoming addicted are 55 and older.

In addition to the personal losses resulting from opiate abuse, Ames said the drugs are responsible for 85 percent of crimes sin northern Michigan.

“The craving drives people to do things they never would,” she said.

Opioid abuse grabbed headlines last month as President Donald Trump declared the national crisis a “health emergency.”

However, local and state agencies have been making strides to address the challenge well before the declaration.

In addition to providing naloxone and training for proper use, CHS has been working with doctors to cut down on the amount and strength of opioid painkillers prescribed; and providing safe and proper disposal options for unused drugs.

Meanwhile, the Leelanau County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the incident .

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of law enforcement and the role they played in this incident,” Borkovich said. “We’ll look at where the drugs came from, who supplied them and their sources.”

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