Narcan is available free to community members at hospitals in Fresno and Clovis. Photo via Fresno Police Facebook page

published on August 16, 2021 - 1:14 PM
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Local hospitals are keeping Narcan at their disposal due to a rise in opioid overdoses — particularly involving fentanyl — in the Central Valley.

Community members can access the life-saving antidote at Community Regional Medical Center’s or Clovis Community Medical Center’s emergency rooms, no questions asked, for free. Normally the drug has to be prescribed and costs $150. But the state has removed barriers so that schools, medical centers, health departments or retail stores can stock the antidote for emergency use. 

Local health officials and law enforcement worry most for youth who have easy access to fentanyl.

John Zanoni, assistant sheriff for Fresno County, said that from 2018 to 2021, there was a significant uptick in deaths related to fentanyl. In 2018, there were two deaths, in 2019 there were 15, and in 2020 there were 40. So far in 2021, there have been 27 fentanyl-related deaths with about five to 10 cases pending with the coroner’s office. 

“Drug overdose by far is our highest cause of death when it comes to vehicle accidents, accidental deaths and suicides,” Zanoni said. 

Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderama said fentanyl looks like a pill and sometimes they’re carried in a pill container, giving them a less negative connotation than other street drugs. 

Balderama said every police car has Narcan in it — at least two doses — and has already saved 60 people from death with the antidote. 

“We know that this drug is 100 times more potent than heroin,” Balderama said. 

Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra described it as an “all hands on deck” situation. 

Every police car has a bottle of Narcan in case of an emergency, and law enforcement and health officials urge the public to collect bottles to keep on hand because of how time sensitive treating an overdose is. 


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