PALM CITY, Fla. - Helping his community doesn’t stop after retirement.
A former firefighter paramedic is still doing his part to keep saving lives by trying to stop deadly drug overdoses.
Luis Garcia is digging into his savings to purchase and give out free doses of Narcan to local businesses.
Garcia says because employees of local businesses interact with so many people, they’re also more likely to encounter someone needing a potentially life-saving dose of Narcan to revive them from a drug overdose.
Narcan works to reverse the effects of narcotics.
On Wednesday, he gave out the Narcan at a dance studio preparing to open in Palm City, Florida called Dance Dome.
Garcia gave out about 20 doses to employees of area businesses such as Publix, area drug rehabilitation centers and the dance studio.
But first, he gives a 90-minute CPR, AED and Narcan class, teaching the employees how to administer the drug. Garcia hopes it also helps them leave feeling confident to help someone who they believe has overdosed.
“You will probably save their life and this can happen anywhere,” Garcia said.
He retired more than five years ago, but even then, he noticed opioid overdoses were rising.
“People too young are dying. They’re too young to die,” Garcia said.
He said he's never done drugs. He said he has never personally known anyone who has overdosed on drugs. He simply noticed the growing epidemic.
“I felt helpless hearing about all these increasing opioid overdoses ... so I just want to be able to help save lives,” Garcia said.
Dance instructor Marie Acosta said she wants any clients, passerby’s in the parking lot or customers at neighboring businesses to be safe.
“You never know,” Acosta said.
“Ground zero, believe it or not, we believe is parking lots and public restrooms,” Garcia said.
He is planning to purchase up to 400 doses of Narcan over the next year.
Martin and St. Lucie County law enforcement agencies say there has been a slight decrease in the number of overdoses over the last year. Still, both agencies average a couple each week.