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Ambulance: Connecticut Overdose Deaths Plateau

Written by RSS Poster Medic Scribe


Overdose deaths are declining in some states, but appear to be plateauing in Connecticut.

Overdose Deaths Fall in 14 States

In data released by the CDC, covering the time period July 2016-June 2017, 14 states showed a decline in overdose deaths, while nationwide deaths rose 14 percent. The data showed an 15.9% increase in Connecticut, but even more recent data released from the Connecticut Medical Examiner’s office tells a more promising story. 

Number of Connecticut overdose deaths surpassed 1,000 in 2017

While deaths increased by 13 percent in Connecticut between 2016 and 2017, the last six months of 2017 showed a 6.7% decrease from the first six months of the year.

This is still a horrendously high level of overdose death, and it may only represent a temporary lull before escalating, but it does reflect what I have been sensing lately.   Over the last several months, 911 calls for overdoses are still abundant, but they don’t seem to be getting worse.

As to why the death rate may have plateaued, it is an open guess. The...

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Ambulance: Mother and Son

Written by RSS Poster Medic Scribe

She curls on the couch sobbing. She found her son not breathing when she came home from her midnight shift. He is on the floor now.  The fire department first responders do compressions on his bare chest.

The man is lean and muscled with jailhouse tattoos on his arms, chest, and neck. It isn’t a stretch to think heroin.

His mother’s boyfriend confirms this to us. The man on the floor was a user.  They argued about it every day, but he kept using. Two torn heroin bags are found on the floor.

We work him for twenty minutes with no response.  Asystole throughout.  His skin is cool, his pupils fixed and dilated. There is already some stiffening in his jaw. We call the hospital for permission to cease the resuscitation. It is granted.

We remove the airway,  electrodes and defib pads and place them along with our gloves in the bag the ambu-bag came in.

His mom kneels over him now, kissing his face, her tears falling on his cold skin. “Vente conmigo, vente conmigo, “ she cries.  Come with me, come with me.  “No te vaya, no te vaya.” Do not go, do...

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Ambulance: Dancer

Written by RSS Poster Medic Scribe


I first picked Veronica up on Hungerford Street one afternoon two years ago. We had been called for an unresponsive, but instead, we found a small woman with a club foot staggering along the street.  She was half on the nod and covered with leaves. I asked her if she was okay, as we walked up.  She just mumbled, and tried to keep walking. We stood in front of her and at twice her size, it became hard for her to ignore us. We were called, we have to at least see if she was okay, we explained.

“I’m fine,” she said.  “I just want to go home.”

“Why are you covered with leaves? I asked.

She wiped tears from her eyes.  “The kids robbed me and threw me in the bushes.  It happens all the time.  They like having their fun with me.”

At least she seemed to have managed to buy and use some heroin before they accosted her. Her pupils were pinpoint and she had a weakness in her knees while standing. Perhaps the kids had been warned by the block enforcer not to rob her until she had contributed her few crumpled dollars to the day’s take.

“You don’t hurt anywhere?”


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Ambulance: Happy New Year

Written by RSS Poster Medic Scribe

On a private employees’ group Facebook page, an EMT posts a video of a man standing on a street corner, clearly on the nod, asleep on his feet. Another man sneaks up on the nodding man.  He reaches back and then slaps the heroin user hard across the face with an open fist. The victim grabs his head and starts running blindly down the street as if he has been attacked by aliens. The assailant meanwhile has hidden on the other side of the street. The video is captioned:

Ambulance: Angry Snowman: Naloxone Refusals

Written by RSS Poster Medic Scribe

An older man with a cell phone meets us at the door to the apartment lobby. His hands shake. He motions for us to follow toward the stairs.

“What’s going on?” I ask.

“I just went out for ten minutes and I came back and found him.”

“Is he breathing?” I ask.

But he does not answer. I take the stairs two at a time, carrying my house bag over my shoulder and the monitor in my hand. I can barely keep up with him his steps are so quick. I follow him up to the second floor, and then down a long hallway to an apartment whose door opens into the living room. A large man in a sofa chair leans to the left motionless. I can only see him from behind. I come around the side and see he is blue and not breathing. I grab his arm, expecting to find rigor, but the arm is limber and the man emits an agonal gasp. He has a bounding carotid pulse. He has to be two sixty, muscle shirted with tattoos, I’m guessing late thirties. My partner gets out the ambu bag while I get my med kit from the house bag. I quickly screw the narcan vial into...

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Ambulance: Chest Wall Rigidity

Written by RSS Poster Medic Scribe

You are called for a seizure in the men’s room at McDonald’s. You arrive to find an approximately thirty-year old man stiff and purple, gurgling.

“Versed?” Your paramedic student says as you break out an ambu-bag.

“Check his pupils.”


You hand him Naloxone. “Give him 1.2 IM,” you say.

He looks at you like you are testing him.

“Go ahead. “Right in the thigh.”

You normally give Naloxone IN, but when the patient is either in full respiratory arrest or in this seizure like state, you like to go IM because it works quicker.  You toss the ambu-bag to a firefighter who has just arrived. It takes him a moment to get the seal. His first breath is ineffective. You take out an oral airway and slip it in his mouth as the tension seems to go away and the man destiffens. His ETCO2 is 100, but gradually comes down to 70, then 60, then quickly drops to 35. In another moment, the man’s eyes are open, and he is looking around in panic.

“You ODed,” you say. “You are in a public restroom. We just gave you...

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Ambulance: Naloxone in Cardiac Arrest

Written by RSS Poster Medic Scribe


Case # 1

You find the fifty year old man supine on the floor with the fire department doing CPR. Their AED announces, “No shock advised. Continue CPR.”

You set your monitor by the man’s head and connect the fire department’s pads to your monitor, while your paramedic student quickly places an IO in the man’s tibia. As you approach the two minute mark, you charge the monitor, and then order stop CPR. The patient is in asystole. “Continue CPR,” you say, as you harmlessly dump the charge by hitting the joule button.

Just then the man’s wife announces, “Oh, my God! He was using heroin.” She holds the empty bags she has just found in the trash can. “He used to use. He’s been clean for five years.”

What drug do you give?



According to the 2010 AHA Guidelines

There is no data to support the use of specific antidotes in the setting of cardiac arrest due to opioid overdose.

Resuscitation from cardiac arrest should follow standard BLS and ACLS algorithms

Naloxone has no role in the management of cardiac...

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Ambulance: Surviving Post Naloxone

Written by RSS Poster Medic Scribe

You find the patient – a young man – in respiratory arrest in a Honda with tinted windows behind a service station.  His head is back, his mouth is open, and he is deeply cyanotic.  His skin is warm and despite having no respirations, he has a pounding carotid pulse.  On the floor board you see an orange capped syringe.  On his lap are crumpled heroin bags that say “Soul Survivor.”  The Fire Department has already squirted some naloxone up his nose and while your partner resumes bagging the man, you get the stretcher next to the car and then carefully extricate the man.  Slowly he begins breathing again on his own.  His ETCO2, which initially was 94, has come down to the 50s and then hits 35.  His SAT is 100.  You stop bagging and monitor him.

A minute later he opens his eyes with a start and tries to sit up.  You tell him he overdosed.  He says “What?  I don’t use drugs.”  You carefully explain that he was found not breathing in his car behind the service station.  He had a syringe in the car and empty heroin bags.  Soul Survivor? ...

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Ambulance: Wild Wild West

Written by RSS Poster Medic Scribe

There is an anxious crowd on the corner of Hungerford as we come lights and sirens down Park Street.  A woman with tattooed arms waves for us to hurry.   A man is on the ground with a crowd clustered around him.   I can see another man kneeling over his chest. His arms together like he is doing  CPR.  “They hit him twice,”  a bystander says to me.  “Lot of people packing it on this corner.”

“He was just walking along and down he went,” another says.

“He gave him four in the right,” the first man says, and then nodding toward a shorter man wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates hat, “and he gave him two in the left.”  

The man on the ground has his eyes open now and starts looking around as the crowd cheers.

“You oded, man,” a man says to him, still holding the syringe with the atomizer on it.

“I did not,” he says.  “What are you all looking?”

“Man, you were out.  I did CPR on you, man.”

“No, I fine,” he says.  “I just fell out.”

“No, man,” a man with the 4 mg nasal spray in his hand says.  “You weren’t breathing.  We...

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Ambulance: Call of Duty

Written by RSS Poster Medic Scribe

“I’m a shit bag,” he says to me.  “I’m supposed to be taking my boy trick or treating tonight.  I can’t fucking believe I did this.  You said I wasn’t breathing?  After all I’ve been through to die like this.  Fuck me.  I’ve got shit for brains.”

The young man got out of jail an hour before.  Thirty days for failure to appear.  He got picked up by some acquaintances, who as a present gave him a bag of heroin to snort (“Just one bag,” he says, “and I snorted it.  I’ve never oded before.  And on top of that I’ve been clean for two months.”

They were going to drop him off at his girlfriend’s house who was going to drive him to his ex-wife’s house, who was going to let him take his son trick or treating.  Instead, when he turned blue and stopped breathing, they dumped him on the sidewalk in front of a hospital – only it wasn’t a hospital with an ED – and took off.  A security guard found him, called 911 and alerted the medical staff inside.

When he came around, I saw the panic in his eyes.  I was just getting out of...

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Latest Medic Scribe Stories

Connecticut Overdose Deaths Plateau
Mother and Son
Happy New Year
Angry Snowman: Naloxone Refusals

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