It slowly dawned on me that we were looking at people who were overdosing.
This past Sunday, my best friend and I were out knocking on doors for my campaign. We forgot to bring water and paused to go get some inside of the nearest CVS. When we walked in, there was an older man and woman standing in front of the exit. Six steps into the store, they were still standing there. My friend, a crisis counselor for Coleman, stopped to ask if they needed help. They didn’t respond. We went over to talk to them because the man appeared to be shaking and in distress. We tried talking to the pair again, with my friend asking if they wanted us to call 911. The lady was able to mumble her name before handing my friend her phone so we could call in the emergency. I thought, “This poor old couple, they can barely take care of themselves!” As we tried, along with the store cashier, to sit the gentleman down, the lady fell over. We ended up laying the man down. My friend immediately called 911 back to let them know that they would need more than one squad. It slowly dawned on me that we were looking at people who were overdosing. We then noticed a third woman bent over. I yelled at the man a few times as I watched his eyes roll and lips turn blue. Then they came. The EMT’s, police officers and fire fighters rolled in and took over. Immediately they announced they needed to grab the Narcan. To be brief, over 10 first responders, professionally and expertly moved in and saved the lives of three people. One officer explained that they had already done this earlier in the day with two other OD’s and one hadn’t made it.
It was all very hard to watch; I am so grateful my friend was able to keep it together for the both of us. One woman who stopped to help us had her granddaughter with her. I thought about all those people who say we shouldn’t bother with the Narcan; we should just let them die. My friend and those first responders saved not just three lives, but they spared a young girl and the rest of us there from watching three horrible deaths. That alone makes it worth it.
This isn’t a junkie problem. It’s not even a drug problem. It’s a whole community problem. When three senior citizens willingly take something lethal, it just shows that we have work to do. What are we doing as a society that so many of us feel the need to escape with food, alcohol, drugs, video games, or anything else we can focus on besides living our lives fully?
This blog isn’t about me getting elected and having all the answers. It’s about me asking everyone to care enough that we can find the answers together. I’m not suggesting that the solution is easy to pinpoint, but if we don’t start by looking for the real reasons people succumb to addiction, this “epidemic” will only get worse. I hope those three people get treatment. I hope together we start making some progress towards prevention.