Editor's note: The above video is from July 2017, when Spokane police first used Narcan to save someone's life. Watch KREM 2 News at 6 p.m. to watch the investigative report.
SPOKANE, Wash. -- In July 2017, Spokane police first used Narcan to save someone from overdosing on opioids.
Since then, the Spokane Police Department has issued the life-saving drug to every patrol officer. Their effort to save lives using Narcan is showing no signs of slowing down. So far, Spokane police have saved nine people with Narcan.
Body camera footage helps give insight into how well Narcan works.
In one video, police arrive to find a frantic woman holding an unresponsive man in a parking lot in north Spokane. It was obvious to the officers what was happening, and they went to grab the Narcan.
One officer checks the man’s pulse and tried to wake him up. Nothing seemed to work, so they administered the Narcan.
"Keep snoring, bud. Keep snoring,” one of the officers said in the video.
His pulse gets stronger and his breathing starts to regulate. Officers roll him onto his side to make sure his airway remains clear. A few minutes later firefighters arrive on scene. They sit the man up, and he starts to regain consciousness.
"We got to take you to the hospital man, too much heroin," one firefighter said.
Firefighters explain to him just how dire his situation was.
"Well, you were just dead on the ground right here, so," a firefighter said.
Sergeant Jay Kernkamp oversees and tracks the Narcan that the department uses. The drug itself is Naloxone. Narcan is the brand name. It's designed to be given through the nose to reverse the effects of a suspected overdose. Kernkamp said you can see it start to work in minutes.
"That fight or flight mechanism. It's two-fold. It’s one: you're taking their high away from them that they just paid for. But also, if they do lose consciousness, then they come back up and they don't know exactly what happened or where they're at and so they can be pretty agitated," he explained.
They’ve used it time-and-time again, saving lives in the process.
"It’s not about cops saving drug addicts, it’s about - these people have families, these people are children of people, they have jobs, unfortunately they just have an addiction problem," Kernkamp said.
He has seen it for himself. On one occasion, they saved a man who was overdosing for hours.
"We had an individual that was laying there in his car completely unconscious, overdosing for over 10 hours. And once we found him he was completely unconscious, cold to the touch, had very, very minimal breathing and we immediately, due to the time delay and the weather and everything else, how long he'd been there, some of the indications of the drugs he'd been using, we immediately gave him two and within two minutes he was already breathing on his own, coughing and coming to on his own," he said.
Kernkamp said he never expected that, as a police officer, he would be using Narcan to save someone from an overdose. Now he says he can’t imagine working without it.
“I don't see it going away. If anything, judging by last group of emails, we have more and more officers that are wanting it,” he said.
"Now, my emails on a daily basis are flooded with, ‘Hey, I used this can I get more Narcan,’” Kernkamp explained.
Officers having Narcan is a joint effort with the Spokane Regional Health District, who provides the funding and equipment.
Deputies with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office also started carrying Narcan on patrol a couple of years ago. So far, they've had at least three saves.
Kerkamp said many of their officers carry Narcan not just to save other people, but to administer to themselves. If they're exposed opioids, fentanyle and carfentanyle they want to be able to save themselves.
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