Kiwanian Walt Szczesny introduced Chief Nick Heimlich as a person most knew from speaking to Springfield Kiwanis before. Nick was born & raised in Delaware County, Ohio & graduated from Capital University in 1974 with a B A in English. His first introduction to Fire Service in 1985 was with the City of Tuscon, Arizona. in 1987 he relocated to Springfield Fire & Rescue Division in Ohio. Over the course of 30 years of service Nick has held every rank position within the Fire Division. He has made eight visits to the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland for discipline & specific educational courses. He holds a Master of Public Administration in 2003 from Wright State University & has been Fire Chief since December 10, 2010. He has been married to Michele for 40 years & they have children Maegan & Caleb with ‘adopted’ spouses, and three grandchildren Sam, Grayson & Charlie & they currently await the birth of their fourth grandchild. Nick currently serves on the board of Leadership Clark County, Project Woman and the Springfield Promise Neighborhood as President.
Nick gave us a perspective on the increase of Drug use & Overdoses. He stated that in 2016 we had 80 deaths from Overdose’s & July 1 we have reached 79 for 2017. There had been a 25% increase of NARCAN use because of the strength of drugs involved as well as users mixing several compounds of drugs including dusting of Fentanyl on injected & smoked drugs. There has been an increase in the use of Synthetic drug use which are easy to manufacture by users. The increase has been attributed to the ease of making & the proliferation of cheap drugs available.
The use of Fentanyl & other Snythetics causes users to cease breathing & the NARCAN with comes in normal doses of 2 mg of two small bottles that are aspirated into each nostril of drug abusers, however these NARCAN doses do not work at relieving the effects of taking drugs unless the person continues to breathe. In cases where the person is not breathing, an injection of a Drip of NARCAN is used to bring the person back to breathing status prior to transportation to a Hospital facility. He stated that the Staff of Springfield Regional Medical Center has added two Counselor positions to attempt to talk the patient into recoginization of their near fatal experience & propose to them the possibilities of going to a Recovery Center for a period of time. It has been widely recognized that overdose victims, left to return to their previous situations, will continue to use Drugs leading to additional oversoses. Placing these persons in a Recovery Center outside of their normal situation can sometimes lead to a change in their existence. He also presented the reported results of investigation that many of the persons continuing to use & returning to the usuage of Opiate Drugs have experienced Physical, Sexual or Mental abuse in their early life.
An increasing problem is that if a person is restored to full consciousness prior to getting to a hospital facitliy they quickly become combative & resistant to being awakened from their stupor. Another problem faced is that with the number of persons requiring resusication, there is a lack of Recovery locations if many wish to take advantage of a Recovery program. The Drug that surpressed the desire for trying to return to their “High” Condition [Vivitroll] cannot be administrated unless about three days of DeTox or more days has passed allowing for the administered opiate drugs to be processed from within their body.
NARCAN has a 3 to 5 minute half life which many times may require multiple doses of administration. The most he could recall was the administration of 12 doses of NARCAN for a Springfield treated patient. One of the current benefits for the Fire Division is that the SRMC covers the cost of replacing the contents of the Bags carried by the Fire Division Rescue Units. This expense covered by SPMC for the past year has resulted in about 56 Thousand Dollars. The Rescue Units have increased the number of NARCAN doses from 2 to 4 per unit. One of the problems continues to be that the Fire Division cannot require that a person be treated after initial recovery & although Police are usually present they may not place a person under arrest to require treatment, so once recovered some patients may walk away from the persons trying to save their life, including the Hos pital.
A 60% of treated patients may agree to Recovery if they are Counseled at the proper time. The Medical Bill for treatment rests with the City. The overdoses that NARCAN works on are Opiates & their Synthtics but does not work with Cocaine overdose’s nor Alcohol. Administration of NARCAN to a healthy person does not harm this person. The increasing use of NARCAN has been because of the mixture of Opiate usage with other Opiates, such as dusting of injected drugs with Fentanyl powders & even the use of Fentanyl onto Marijuana increases the possibility of Medically induced health problems.
Nick stated that approximately 6% of the Fire/Rescue runs are for Drug Induced problems & the various intervention techniques involved are important to Informed Trauma Care. He ended the presentation with a story of a Kitchen Fire with a Grease Fire in a pan catching the Cabinets above aflame. A woman & daughter ran outside screaming for Help & two men across the street came into the residence & put a lid on the pan & then retrieved a Fire Extinguisher & had the Fire out prior to the arrival of the Fire Division. Recently he had determined to award these two men with recognition of their Valor in putting out the Fire & went to contact them for a Ceremony. He found one of the men & asked about the other man who had overdosed 14 days prior to the Fire Incident & also 4 days after the Fire Incident. The second man had committed suicide 16 days after the Fire Incident.