Yakima deputy uses Narcan to save woman from prescribed opioid o - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima deputy uses Narcan to save woman from prescribed opioid overdose

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YAKIMA, WA - A 46-year-old Terrace Heights woman is still recovering Wednesday night after accidentally overdosing on a prescribed opioid painkiller in her home the night before. Two Yakima Sheriff's deputies are being credited for their quick actions in saving her life.

According to a press release from the Yakima Sheriff's Office, Deputies Kevin Beehler and Jessie Arreguin were called to a house near 39th Street and Terrace Heights Drive on Tuesday night around 8 p.m. When they arrived, they found the victim barely breathing with a low pulse and foaming at the mouth. When both deputies recognized that the woman was overdosing, Deputy Beehler went to get Narcan nasal spray from his patrol car. The spray reverses the effects of opioids, which saved the woman's life.

"Everyone responds differently to opioid medicines," said Robert Udell, Chief Criminal Deputy. "They are often prescribed after a big event like surgery and it can be easy to overdose on them. One person might take a pill and say, 'that didn't quite do it' and do two, and that may be too much."

YSO says the victim had recently been treated for an injury and was prescribed several medications including an opioid painkiller. Investigators say there is no indication that the woman was trying to harm herself.

This is the first time that YSO has used Narcan on a call, but it won't be the last. In 2017, the department was awarded a federal grant from the Northwest HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking) area, through South Central Washington's Educational Service District 105. According to Udell, the grant allowed the Sheriff's Office to buy enough Narcan to equip all the deputies, plus several area law enforcement agencies and fire departments.

Udell says that YSO responds to a lot of heroin overdoses in Yakima County. Often they're dealing with victims who don't always know what's exactly in the illegal drugs they're buying and many times they were cut with another drug. In some cases that includes the very powerful opioid, fentanyl. The drug is so powerful that the Yakima Sheriff's Office has had to institute changes in the way any of their employees handle unknown drugs because it can be absorbed through the skin, which could lead to an overdose

"We keep Narcan now with our evidence techs because they could be exposed to opioids while handling evidence," Udell said.