Retired firefighter to give away 600 Narcan sprays

Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 10:03 PM EDT
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The year 2022 has brought a dramatic spike in overdose deaths to start the year.

According to the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner, overdose deaths went up 31% in January and February compared to last year.

"All of us should carry Narcan because we never know when someone's life will depend on it," said Luis Garcia, a retired firefighter from Boynton Beach who lives in Fort Lauderdale.

Garcia is visiting beaches from Jupiter down to Hallandale giving away 600 free Narcan sprays to beachgoers, spring breakers, and anyone who may want one.

"It's been a very productive day. I've given out about a hundred sprays," said Garcia. "I've given out over 6,000 sprays now in 300 classes in the last 4 years and 250 people who received this spay have saved another human being. So, my mission this weekend is to try to hit the spring break crowd."

Garcia said he was inspired by the 6 West Point cadets who overdosed and died while on spring break in Fort Lauderdale.

"It's necessary to have in my halfway house. I have a lot of young women that are addicts with heroin and fentanyl," said Elita Gast, the owner of Penny's Halfway Lake House.

In January and February alone, 104 people died of overdoses.

That's 31% more than in 2021.

"When my son went when we had his funeral, I'm in the kitchen at my house, there was 5 of us standing there who had all lost our children," said Dawn Jonas, a recovering addict.

Jonas has been sober for 36 years. Her son was in an out of rehab before he died in a car accident.

"Kids today have buried so many of their friends," said Jonas. "I mean, it's like a whole generation has been. So many of them have been wiped out."

Jonas said she never leaves her house without Narcan, because she never knows when someone will need their life saved.

"We need more people to raise awareness, we need more advocates, we need more activists. We know more people to shine a light on what's going on," said Ellen Isaacs who has battled with addiction and lost her son to an overdose.

"If I'd had Narcan on me when my son went down, I would have been able to save his life. Had the paramedics come with Narcan, they would've been able to save his life. They didn't," said Isaacs.

Isaacs has been an advocate for Narcan and hosted events like Black Balloon Day to remember the lives lost to opioids, those still fighting and to raise awareness on the epidemic.

"We're all just out here really trying, and we don't feel like we're getting the support that we need from the federal or state government or even the local government," Isaacs said.

Garcia plans to distribute Narcan throughout beaches through Sunday.

He also plans to hand out Narcan at downtown clubs and entertainment spots during nighttime hours.

"Narcan should be viewed no differently than a smoke detector, an epi-pen, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, an automatic defibrillator," said Garcia.

Garcia said a spray runs about $75 and he wants anyone who is in need of free Narcan to call his phone number (954) 859-4696 and visit his GoFundMe page to support his cause.

Garcia hopes to make his spring break beach Narcan giveaways an annual event as long as the funds are available.

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