DIXON, Illinois – Usually when the Dixon Fire Department gets a call about a drug overdose, they’d treat them by giving them a dose of Narcan – a medication that reverses the effect of the drug. But, with the new “Leave Behind” program, they are giving overdose victims and their families an option to start treatment at home sooner.
“Overdoses happen, I mean people are addicted to it,” says Captain Jesse Arjes.
When firefighters respond to an overdose call, they can’t force the patient to accept treatment. In the “Leave Behind” program they leave a red bag behind that includes two doses of Narcan nasal spray, instructions for use, and referral information for treatment.
“It actually works pretty fast,” says Arjes, referring to the Narcan. “Once you got the naloxone, they’ll come around in seconds and start breathing better.”
“Studies haven shown anyone in 24 to 48 hours who has overdosed and has used Narcan will likely use it again in that time frame,” says Fire Chief Ryan Buskhol.
The fire department decided to adopt the program after the Dixon police chief reached out to a drug resource center in Peoria to get ten kits.
“There are conflicting options about whether we are allowing them to make bad choices by leaving the Narcan, I disagree,” Buskhol explains. “We aren’t promoting the using, we are just giving them time to make the right choices.”
By leaving behind the medication, they hope to steer overdose patients in the right direction.
“That’s the idea, that this will be in the household with them,” Arjes comments.
The new program will also include the Dixon Police Department. Officers will follow up with the overdose victim the next day to see if they want to follow through with a treatment program.
Dixon Fire Department is one of two fire departments near the Quad Cities to adopt the program, along with the Peoria Fire Department.