(KNOXVILLE) Knoxville police say they’ve revived four people who overdosed on heroin in five days, underscoring the value they place on carrying a drug that counters the powerful opioid.
Officers encountered the unconscious men and women, including a mother of two children, on unrelated calls beginning March 12, according to the Knoxville Police Department.
KPD has been carrying Naloxone, which can revive a drug user in the throes of a heroin overdose, since last summer. A Knoxville Police Department spokesperson said its officers have saved 12 lives of people overdosing on heroin since officers have carried Naloxone.
Blount County deputies and some area first responders also carry the drug.
Police and prosecutors with the Knox County District Attorney General's Office say they've seen an uptick in heroin overdoses and heroin-related deaths in recent years. They've also charged and prosecuted heroin dealers who have moved here from Chicago and Detroit.
10News highlighted the emerging health problem in its 2015 series Heroin Hits Home.
On Saturday, Officer Travis Harvey was dispatched to an unnamed Chapman Highway motel where he found a 35-year-old woman who had overdosed. The woman quickly began breathing again after Harvey gave her Naloxone.
She'd been using heroin to celebrate release from a drug rehab program, according to KPD.
The next day, Officer Mike Riddle saw an unresponsive 36-year-old man behind the wheel of a car parked on Parkside Drive. Inside the car he saw a used syringe and a cloth belt that had been used to tie the man's arm to make a vein bulge for an injection, according to KPD.
The man began to breathe after Riddle administered Naloxone, and he was taken to an area hospital.
Also on Monday, Officer Coy Tucker used Naloxone on a man he spotted who was slumped over on a bed in the back bedroom of a house on Baxter Avenue. From outside Tucker had seen the 27-year-old man's feet hanging from a bed and had gone in the house to investigate, according to KPD.
"Officer Tucker immediately administered his dose of Naloxone to the male," a KPD release states. "The male began breathing once again and was transported to a local hospital. Officer Tucker located a used syringe next to the male."
And on Wednesday afternoon, officers were sent to a Vermont Avenue address after an 8-year-old called 911 to report that her mother had overdosed on what she thought was heroin.
KPD Sgt. Caryn Heitz gave the unconscious 35-year-old woman a dose of Naloxone after which the mother woke up and began talking. She'd been lying on the bathroom floor.
The woman was taken to an area hospital.
According to KPD, the woman had two children, the 8-year-old and a 12-year-old. She'd been using heroin with a male who fled the address when the woman fell unconscious, according to KPD.
"In addition, Sgt. Heitz discovered there was no food in the house except a bag of chips that the children had been eating from throughout the day. Sgt. Heitz along with Officer JaJuan Hamilton and Officer Hunter Snoderly obtained food for the children and cared for them until family members could arrive from out of town," according to KPD.
The mother will be charged, according to KPD, and authorities with the Family Crimes Unit are looking into the family's living conditions.