CHEATHAM COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – While most of you were gearing up to watch the Super Bowl this Sunday, a dozen Cheatham County emergency workers were busy saving one man who had injected something that caused him to stop breathing.
Body Cam from Cheatham County deputy Ryan Hawkins showed him arriving at the home.
Inside, he found a 26-year-old man who was not breathing. His family members were performing CPR on him.
“I think I broke a couple of his ribs,” the woman giving CPR says.
“It happens,” the Deputy responds.
The family quickly asked the deputy for Narcan.
The woman explains, “he’s gurgling…around. He was dark blue. Dark black.”
The deputy administered one dose then went to his squad car to get a second dose.
“When he first got there, he wasn’t moving any air. He had a pulse but was not able to breathe on his own. It tells us it’s some sort of a central nervous system depressant. Opiate probably.
That means he is very close to death,” said Lt. Ken Miller with the Cheatham County Sheriff’s Office.
Within minutes, EMS arrived and medical crews administered four more doses of Narcan. That’s six doses of Narcan given to the overdose patient.
“My theory is, people are so used to being saved they are getting bolder with it. They are taking more of the drug than they use to. The dosages are stronger. The chemists are getting better at mixing this stuff to take them right to the edge. It’s absolutely the norm to administer multiple doses of Narcan,” said Lt. Miller.
Around that time, deputies found a needle in the bathroom.
“I want to make sure we don’t get a kid stuck with a needle,” he says.
From the brink of death, the man began to wake. As he did he became agitated and howled loudly.
In the end, beside the OD victim, there were three deputies, six firefighters, three EMS workers, a small child, and several other family members in the living room.
“Yes, sir. All total we were 15 or 16 people involved in that one scene trying their very best to save that one man’s life. It is an epidemic,” said Lt. Miller.
Dr. Cory Slovis at Vanderbilt Medical Center told News 2, with super powerful Fentanyl frequently mixed into opioids like heroin, more doses of Narcan are often needed to revive patients.
According to Lt. Miller, the man was saved, and he was not charged with any crime, which is new to this law office.
“Absolutely, he would have been charged at the very least with drug paraphernalia.”
Miller said state law governing overdoses have been relaxed for first-time offenders. He says it began in earnest the first of the year.
According to Miller, in the past, the threat of prosecution and arrest kept victims from calling for help and seeking programs to get clean.
He says the law’s intention is to give offenders another chance to promote healing.
The law reads in part:
Any person who in good faith seeks medical assistance for a person experiencing or believed to be experiencing a drug overdose shall not be arrested, charged, or prosecuted for a drug violation if the evidence for the arrest, charge, or prosecution of the drug violation resulted from seeking such medical assistance. Any person who is experiencing a drug overdose and who in good faith seeks medical assistance for or is the subject of a request for medical assistance shall not be arrested, charged, or prosecuted for a drug violation if the evidence for the arrest, charge, or prosecution of the drug violation resulted from seeking such medical assistance. This immunity from being arrested, charged, or prosecuted shall apply to the person experiencing a drug overdose only on the person’s first such drug overdose. Any such person shall also not be subject to the following, if related to the seeking of medical assistance
“The state legislature felt like when we were charging all these people and it was making them very reluctant to seek help for the overdose or to seek help for treatment to change their life to get better. So the legislature said let’s give them some leeway here, give them a pass so maybe they’ll learn from this and seek help,” said Lt. Miller.
When asked what he thinks of the plan so far, Miller said this: “I’m on the fence about it. I’m hoping that if we extend them some leniency if they let us help them get better, they can turn their lives around. I get the argument; why are we wasting our time, but everyone’s life is worth something.”
On the flip side, Miller acknowledges that a dozen Cheatham emergency workers were in one house helping one man when they could have been all over the county helping others and patroling for crimes.
Cheatham County officials said they are investigating who supplied the drugs to that man.
As mentioned, the law only applies to first time offenders – the victim in the story has no “overdose” history in Cheatham County.
According to the law, there are several exceptions that include probation and parole violations and issues pertaining to protective orders and restraining orders.
According to Cheatham County EMS, so far in the first 36 days of the year, emergency crews have administered 36 doses of Narcan to 21 patients.