First Responders Respond to Opiate Epidemic

FIRSTRESPONDERSNORTHEAST KINGDOM- An epidemic that is seen around the country... hitting home here in the Northeast Kingdom.Sgt. Lester Cleary from the St. Johnsbury Police Department says, "Our officers are called to a variety of calls everyday and seldom there is a day that goes by that we don't have a crime, at least one crime that is related to someone's drug addition."


Pat McLaughlin Assistant Chief of the Lyndonville Fire Department that his crews don't see as many drug related incidents but they do assist ambulance crews at times. ""And some of those calls were someone has overdosed on an opioid they would present as having a cardiac arrest, not breathing, pulseless. So we would then go as the fire department to assist the rescue."

The addictions that first responders face ranges, ""Whether it be substance addiction, let's say whether it be alcohol or opiates or prescription medication" says Cleary.

McLaughlin's crew is aware of what comes along with addiction related incidents. "Our members aren't immune from running into needles and sharps and other opioids in those senses. You go to a motor vehicle accident, you may run into a needle in a car."

The Fire Department recently ran into one of these incidents on Red Village Road on October 2nd when two men were fleeing from Vermont State Police which resulted in them crashing their vehicle. " There were sharps and things of that nature involved."

With the epidemic, the training first responders receive has changed. "We have been able to make our fire fighters aware n that you may come across a situation where there may be sharps, we want to make sure that all our guys understand blood-born pathogens and how you stay away from anything and how you stay away from anything that is wet, sticky, and not yours" says McLaughlin.

As serious as this epidemic is, first responders want to remind everyone that treating addiction isn't a simple task. McLaughlin says,"they do have a real life, they're not all just junkies not all just trying to get high. They could be just like you and me stuck on a disease, so we need to treat it like that."


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