EMS company cautiously optimistic as need for Narcan drops

Carlisle/West Shore

There’s a glimmer of hope in Cumberland County when it comes to the opioid crisis. 

Cumberland Goodwill EMS is celebrating a month of only giving out one dose of Narcan, but their optimism comes with a heavy dose of caution. 

Assistant Cumberland Goodwill EMS Chief Nathan Harig remembers most overdose victims, but one in particular sticks out. EMS services had been to the house multiple times for the same person who was overdosing, and during their last visit, responders had to break down the bathroom door. 

“When they came out and talked to the grandparent who was watching that patient at the time [the grandparent] said, ‘Oh yeah, the last time you guys were out there, you had to remove it, so we just left it off,'” Harig said. 

It’s stories like these that give Harig hope that heroin overdose calls are down, but the success has a darker side. 

“We’re still seeing the same number of overdose calls. It’s just been shifted to alcohol, benzodiazepines. We’ve seen people illicitly using even Benadryl,” Harig said. 

Harig said cocaine and meth have recently made a comeback. This statistic is backed up by the state, according to a report released by the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs last month. 

“We’re going to start seeing numbers like this where it looks like there’s an improvement being made, and that might be true in one case, but we also have to be aware that EMS is struggling, fire departments are still struggling,” Harig said. 

They’re struggling, together, at least. Harig said there needs to be a continued, unified effort from all members of the community to keep fighting, and while hard times still lie ahead, little victories matter. 

“At the same time, we’re encouraged that maybe the most deadly stuff that’s out there is no longer gonna be circulating around our patients,” Harig said. 

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