Local News


Hope in the war against heroin

Posted at 5:17 PM, Mar 31, 2016
Destruction, death, and immeasurable human suffering.
Heroin and pain pill addiction inflict misery on families and communities across the country. 
Now there's a ray of light in the darkness of what some call the most critical health crisis of our time.   
For years Nevada has ranked one the highest states in the nation for drug-related deaths. 
Overdoses on heroin and painkillers take more lives than car crashes. Most of the victims are teens and young adults. 
Nearly 50,000 died in the U.S. In 2014 tearing families apart and making many feel hopeless. 
"When I went upstairs, I saw him laid out on the bed. He was gray. He wasn't breathing." 
It was July 21, 2011. Joe Engle's oldest son, Reese, died from a heroin overdose. Reese was 19-years-old.
"He was gone. There was nothing I could do."
But now, thanks in part to Joe and the work of many other advocates, there's hope for other parents.
"If you have a loved that has an opiate addiction and you're concerned that he or she may overdose and you want to use Narcan," says Dr. David Slattery, Medical Director for Las Vegas Fire and Rescue, "you're going to be to walk in to a pharmacy and the pharmacist is going to be to dispense that directly."
In a first-of-it's kind training on Wednesday, Dr. Slattery and Las Vegas Fire medics show people how to use Narcan, the critical medication used by EMT's and in emergency rooms to reverse the effects of overdose.
A new law in Nevada allows the general public to use it too.
Las Vegas Fire and Rescue alone uses medications like Narcan nearly a 1,000 times a year.  That's not including other fire departments and area hospitals. 
Providing Narcan to the general public empowers everyone to save lives just like knowing CPR or first aid.  
"We need to get a handle on it here in Southern Nevada sooner than later," says Mayor Pro Tem Steve Ross. "And we're trying to get people the help they need to overcome this addiction and get them into recovery." 
While Nevada has one of the highest rates of overdoses in the nation, organizers say we are one of last states to pass a law to get Narcan out to the public.