LT. GIOVANNIE SANTOS holds a sample of Narcan, which is what he used to save an overdose victim Sunday. Santos is an investigator with the Cairo Police Department.
Cairo Police Lieutenant Giovannie Santos says the stars aligned Sunday morning when dispatchers called for assistance with a heroin overdose on Peebles Still Road. Santos was on his way home from work around 1:20 a.m. when he heard the call on his radio. The C.P.D. investigator says at the time he was on U.S. 84, near GA 112, the road he would need to take to get to the scene. He checked with the Grady County Sheriff’s Office supervisor, Sgt. Kelvin Nixon, to see if the responding deputies had Narcan. When he found out they did not, he drove to the scene.
“I knew it was outside my jurisdiction, but I went out there to do what I could do,” Lt. Santos said later.
At the scene, the homeowner, who had discovered the victim, told Santos the woman had just injected heroin.
Santos found the victim, a woman about 30 or 31 years old, lying on a bedroom floor. “She was ghostly white, a pale grey color, and her lips were almost picture perfect blue,” Santos recalled. He says a needle and a homemade tourniquet were on the floor. “I noticed her breathing was real shallow and she was not responsive,” Santos said.
He gave her a shot of Narcan, an emergency treatment that reverses an opioid overdose and is administered like a nasal spray. “It seemed like forever, but it was probably a few minutes, and she took a deep breath, then actually started breathing normally,” Santos said.
By the time an ambulance arrived a few minutes later, the victim was conscious and talking, he reported.
Santos said although Cairo Police have been equipped with Narcan for about two years, this was his first time having to use it.
“It amazes you how the stars can line up in the right way, and you can be somewhere at the right place and right time, and that’s what happened that night,” said Santos.
Santos said even though the needle, tourniquet and a makeup bag containing drug paraphernalia were found with the victim, Georgia law prevents officers from arresting them on drug charges related to the overdose.
“Georgia law protects overdose victims. The biggest concern is their safety,” he said. With such protection under the law in place, no one should feel concern about reporting an overdose and hopefully fewer deaths will occur, said Santos.