PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- All it takes is about the size of a grain of sand.

Just that tiny amount, and the drug fentanyl can become a killer.

"Fentanyl use is dangerous, it can shut down breathing," said Stephanie Seite, an addiction specialist with Community Bridges

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"People always talk about respiratory arrest, but what they really need to talk about and understand is many people go to sleep permanently."

From rock-and-roll legends to valley teenagers, this crisis is sweeping the country, and Arizona responders are on the front lines.

Two Tucson police officers have body camera videos that are tough to watch. They show in real time, two people in the death zone, with the clock ticking. Watch video of the encounter here.

People think they are taking cheap pain pills, but end up like the experts just described, minutes from death.

[RELATED: Phoenix area fentanyl overdose survivor speaks on getting clean]

These Tucson police officers tell Arizona’s Family they see it far too often. But they are making a difference because they're armed with what many call the "save shot."

Narcan is a nasal spray that contains naloxone.

Medical experts say it is the rescue shot that's saving lives. When given a dose, a study out of Boston hospital says 94 percent of overdose victims survives.

It saved these two people in Tucson shown in those body cam videos. Valley first responders insist it is working for them as well, but there is a major catch.

“If you get naloxone within a few minutes you’ll probably be OK, but after four minutes the clock really starts ticking," Emergency Room Doctor Frank LoVecchio said.

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LoVecchio is talking about brain damage, quickly followed by death.

That 4-minute window is a deadline in every sense of the word. But LoVecchio and other medical experts say Narcan is giving people a second chance at life. It has only been available to officers on Arizona streets for a short time.

Back in June of 2017, Governor Doug Ducey declared a public health emergency over the growing opioid epidemic. Included in the Governor’s plan was the training and deployment of Narcan. The order making it available for free to any law enforcement agency.

A year later, 63 departments across the state had Narcan and used it on over 400 people in the field. Only nine of them did not survive.

Arizona's Family's Investigative reporter Morgan Loew went to Kingman last spring, where police officers there became the first in the state to carry Narcan. The impact was almost immediate.

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Last October, the Attorney General's office was even showing Valley clergy and faith leaders how to administer the save shot. It seemed Narcan was quickly catching on.

But Arizona’s Family asked nearly every police department in the Phoenix area if their officers carried Narcan. From those that responded to repeated email requests: Mesa, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Chandler, Apache Junction, Cave Creek, Goodyear, Surprise,  Glendale and Buckeye police departments all said their officers carried the drug.

Tempe, the home of Arizona State University, the city’s police officers do not carry Narcan. That is the same for the state’s largest municipal police department. If faced with a possible overdose call for help, with the exception of EMT's officers, Phoenix police officers do not have it.

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“No officers. Officers are not carrying narcan. We work with fire. Fire is readily available, so our officers are told to call them. They’re the first aid," said Robert Ward, head of Phoenix police’s Safety Unit.

Police officers are usually the first responder to a call for help. The four-minute window clock has already started ticking.

“Most opinion for medical purpose is CPR is what you really need. Manage the airway, manage the patient, call fire and they can administer the narcan if necessary," Ward added.

It is a different mindset for Buckeye police.

Tim Freund is a paramedic with the Buckeye Police SWAT Team.

"There was some hesitation about law enforcement carrying narcan, but we went across the aisle and talked to our friends in fire and said, hey this is good for everybody because we can get there faster," he said.

"The police can offer treatment if its safe to do so, they can make that difference by giving that person a few extra precious minutes before the fire department gets there." 

With thousands of police officers statewide, what about the cost?

"I think it goes back to the governor's declaration of the emergency, and the fact we were able to do it through grant funding," Freund added.

"It didn't cost us anything - it doesn't cost the public, the other agencies anything, because of this grant funding right now."

Governor Ducey says he wants to see 85 percent of Arizona’s population served by law enforcement agencies to have a Narcan program in place.

Arizona is one of the few states that people can purchase Narcan without a prescription.

[RELATED: Global 'pandemic' of fake drugs killing children worldwide, report says]

CBS 5's Sean McLaughlin is a nine-time Emmy award winner and anchors CBS 5 News at 5, 6:30 and 10 p.m. alongside Kris Pickel. 
 
 


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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(6) comments

Shredder

They OD. They want to die. Let them die.

Wazoolie

Why? If someone robs a bank because they have no money, do you give them money and set them free?

Shredder

Good analogy.

JustinP

"It didn't cost us anything - it doesn't cost the public, the other agencies anything, because of this grant funding right now." Must be a liberal. Doesn't understand money has to come from somewhere.

MyOwnMind

Pretty messed up. If they are dumb enough to use drugs, let them deal with the consequences.

ObeyLaws

Narcan should only be administered if the person ODing has the Narcan with them. Why should taxpayers pay for your Narcan??

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