Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


April 3, 2014

Narcan a win for the town â€" and the fire chief

Fire Chief Mike Mansfield needed this one.

Late last Friday afternoon, after a process that took months of hard work, Mansfield went to Lawrence General Hospital and picked up 10 Narcan kits, which he then drove back to the Central Station and placed in the town ambulances.

Over the weekend, EMTs responded to two heroin overdoses in town — one on Interstate 93 and another at Merrimack College. While Narcan — a nasal spray used to bring opiate overdose victims back to life — was not used in either case, it seems likely that it could be used soon.

Last year, town ambulances responded to eight overdoses. This year, they have already responded to six, Mansfield said. Clearly, the problem of heroin addiction is not going away anytime soon, if ever. To have a tool in the town’s first responders’ first-aid kit that can save lives quickly and easily is a no-brainer.

The chief is to be congratulated for spearheading the effort to bring this life-saving treatment to Andover. He is the first public safety official in the Merrimack Valley to get Narcan on the streets where it is needed. There is no reason Andover should lose another one of its residents, young or old, due to an overdose when they can be treated by local EMTs who are usually first on the scene of such medical calls.

But Mansfield has had a tough go of it on other fronts recently.

He was thwarted, for the second year in a row, in his effort to bring Advanced Life Support to Andover. Last year, Town Meeting voters rejected his proposal to purchase about $150,000 worth of equipment needed to bring the town’s two ambulance squads from Basic Life Saving to ALS. Mansfield said it’s his top public safety priority. Plus, he says, the revenue from insurance is actually double or triple the cost of implementing ALS. He says he already has five, trained paramedics on staff who can use the equipment. He said when they get to a scene where advanced life saving could be used, they have to sit by until paramedics from Lawrence General Hospital arrive to administer the care.

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