NOGALES, Ariz. (KGUN) — In Nogales, firefighters are tackling the opioid epidemic. It's something Fire Marshal Jeff Polcari said is a growing problem in the border community.
“It seems like the availability is there now, unfortunately. So we do see it more prevalent now than it was when it first started,” he said.
He said this year firefighters have responded to six overdoses.
“It seems like with COVID also, we've started seeing people come with depression. Now that become more are isolated, just the community as a whole. That's why I think it might be more prevalent,” said Polcari.
When first responders arrive, they use medication to aim to reverse the effects of the overdose called Naloxone—better known as Narcan.
“I mean it can happen to families, it can happen to people we know, especially being in a small town. That's what makes it rough. People do die from this. I think there's complacency with how serious opiate drugs can be and the consequences of using them,” he explained.
As first responders continue to see the epidemic unfold, they are making it available to everyone for free thanks to a grant the fire department received from the State of Arizona.
All residents have to do is pick it up from one of the Nogales fire stations.
- 777 North Grand Avenue
- 2751 North Grand Avenue
“[We're] not trying to get them in trouble. It's trying to get the medicine to help them if they do have an overdose," said Polcari.
It doesn’t stop there, firefighters will help residents get the help they need.
“The problem is this is kinda a temporary fix. You know, the goal will be, have somebody give that counseling that rehab, to get them off of it,” he explained.