MONTEVIDEO, Minn. – Police and the medication Naloxone is being credited for saving a woman who was overdosing.
Montevideo police officer Chuck Beery had never used the life-saving drug since his department started carrying it several months ago. That is until about two weeks ago.
He and Chippewa County Sheriff deputy Rich Shamla responded to a 911 call of a 20-year-old woman who had overdosed on fentanyl. They say only 30 seconds after administering the drug, the woman was awake and talking.
“To have them come back from a drug that we actually carry, it’s great. It’s awesome. It’s something every department should have,” said Beery.
"Everybody should have it for the possibility of making an immediate impact on someone’s life who overdosed,” he said.
In fact, Shamla said unlike Montevideo PD his department does not carry Naloxone because of storage concerns. The drug can freeze in frigid temperatures.
He wondered what would have happened if he was the one to respond first.
"I question myself if I would have been able to help her,” he said.
He's now advocating for all first responders to carry the life-saving medication and expects Chippewa County to carry the medication soon because of what he experienced.
"It has to be there, everywhere,” said Candi Lageson.
Who’s she? The mother of the woman Officer Beery saved using Naloxone.
"I’m so thankful for that. If they didn’t have that I don’t think she would be here today,” she said.
She told KARE 11 her daughter is now seeking treatment for her addiction, something so unbelievable to her since she discovered her daughter practically dead.
“I thought she was going to die,” she recalled.
"There’s a new mom that is able to take care of her child,” added Shelly Elkington.
She trained Montevideo how to use Naloxone. She's with the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation, the organization that pushed the state to help pay for first responders to carry Naloxone. Elkington is now hoping lawmakers will do more.
"The validation to our legislators that this works needs to be very clear and very real to them,” she said.
The Minnesota Department of Health who oversees the state program said of the roughly $250,000 available initially to first responders only $112,000 is left.
In the spring, KARE 11 discovered some EMS regions responsible for allocating the grant money to first responders had not spent the money. But as of today, the state reports all of them have spent at least portions of the funding available. Some regions have even run out and have requested more, including the northeast region.
Meanwhile, the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation is offering free training for not only first responders, but the general public on how to use Naloxone. You can find more information at their website, as well as who to contact to sign up for the training.