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Tactical Living

Aug 28, 2019

911, what’s the nature of your emergency? 

Ashlie: Welcome back to another episode of Tactical Living by LEO Warriors. I'm your host Ashlie Walton. 

Clint: And I’m your co-host Clint Walton.


Ashlie: In today's episode we're going to talk about substance abuse and how Narcan plays a role in that of a police officer. So just sit back, relax and enjoy today's content. As you listen I constantly prompt Clint with questions based out of curiosity of things that I’m unaware of because I don't live in his world as a police officer. I do that because I have such a desire for understanding the resources that he has and how he uses them in his day to day world. One of the topics of conversation that came up recently was the use of Narcan. I was asking Clint all the normal questions that somebody without any sort of knowledge of personal drug abuse would ask. And Clint I wonder if you could just share with the listener a little bit about your thoughts on Narcan as a whole. 


Clint: I think Narcan is a very good solution to the drug overdose problem. But at the same time it could be very harmful if it's not utilized in the correct way or with the right substance. In what I’ve seen just on tv and other agencies in which they use it, you kind of open yourself up to a liability to where if you don't recognize an overdose compared to say a diabetic shock and you think it's an overdose and you realize it could actually do more harm than good. And so it's being able to really evaluate that aspect of when to use it or when not to use it and opening yourself up to liability. Our agency currently doesn't use it. They don't give it to the officers responding to those incidents. That's where the fire department or the ambulance drivers are there to administer it if needed. But it also kind of weighs into the effect of we're doing something out of our general scope of duties. Now they're asking us to be a medical professional so to speak. And it's interesting I had a lieutenant bring this up to me a couple of years ago and I really like this and it stuck with me. I relish in the fact of firefighters. What do you see a firefighter doing if you look back 20 years ago? They fought fires. That's all they did. They didn't respond to medical emergencies. They didn't respond to those instances where someone needed help. They responded to fires and I always joke getting kittens out of trees, because they had the long ladders. But over time their job has changed. You know new developments in fire safety and fire extinguishers and sprinkler systems drought houses we've seen less and less fires. So they had to incorporate something else to pretty much rationalize their job description. That's when they started responding to medical emergencies as well to shorten time frames and actually provide that medical assistance at the scenes before being transferred to the hospital and just relying on doctors to treat individuals. This has reduced you know severe injuries or death out at a scene of a crash or a shooting scene. Because they're able to provide that first on scene medic responsibility to control that situation until the medical professionals are able to correct it. We describe ourselves as we just delayed the process of death. We don't stop death. We prevent it for a short time. The doctor stopped it and that ties in for the fire department as well as us. You know there's certain aspects we're having to pick up more and more on to articulate what we do. With our future changing and cars being self driven and the need for a motorcycle enforcement officers or traffic tickets going out there. It's not going to be necessary if we have all self-driving cars. Because it's an all automated process where there's no human aspect involved. And I can't cite a car for doing what it's not supposed to be doing. So over the years we're going to have to develop and figure out what needs to change to articulate our response for our jobs. 

Ashlie: I think that's a great point to point out and maybe something we don't always consider being the evolution of first responders and how the dynamics of their jobs have changed based on how much society has changed. The drug epidemic used to never be what it is today. And it seems that we're trying to find more and more ways to try to mend what happens on the backside of that. And in my opinion I think it's unfortunate that we've even gotten to this point to where we would put that sort of liability and that sort of due diligence in the hands of a first responder with them assuming responsibility for whether or not this patient lives or dies.

Clint: And it's kind of funny damned if we do,  damned if we don't. Because say I work to provide Narcan to someone who I believe was overdosed and it works, great. But if I had it and I didn't do it, then I’m screwed there. But if they were overdosing and I wasn't sure and I didn't use it, I’m damned there too. 

Ashlie: Yeah it's really not fair. It creates too many gray areas in our profession where society is already imposing so many of those gray areas on you already. And it also makes you I would assume just question so much around what's happening in those situations. And I like that you bring up everything with the fire department, because there was an agency that was running this beta test where they actually have a medical doctor going with them from call to call. And that medical doctor is saving so much money because they're able to treat the patient on site. Eliminate the need for something like 70 percent of transports that were unnecessarily sent to the hospital just by literally having a doctor on scene to be able to treat the patient there and a lot of the times it's simply done and done deal or asking them to follow up with their MD, their medical doctor themselves after the fact. And that's something we would have never thought. I mean when you think about it it's like going back into the day where doctors would perform house calls on patients. This is really like the same thing only you have to be so dire that you're calling 911 in order to access it. 


Clint: And it's crazy to even think of that because that would be amazing. It would reduce our emergency room and just in general transport service and tax pays that we're having to spend to get these people to the hospital, because no one there is a medical professional to determine if they need to go or not.

Ashlie: And that's a big problem. In being in the medical field for 12 years I can tell you in our area in particular, we are so inundated in a lot of that is because the housing became so affordable up here we started to build a significant amount of housing tracks and people were moving up here from LA. which side note increased the level of danger for our community. But we live in this tri city area where we have two hospitals and in those two hospitals during the wintertime the average wait is nine to 12 hours. And the reason for that is because of the under education of patients thinking that they have an emergency, an emergency is I cannot get a hold of my doctor and my kid has a broken bone. I cannot get a hold of my doctor and I don't know whether or not I should go. And even in those situations most insurances have a nurse advice line that you can call to ask for guidance on those questions. An emergency as I think I need stitches. I think I am dying. I cannot breathe. Those are the types of ailments that require a visit to the emergency room or a 911 phone call. Taking your child to the emergency room because they've had a fever for 24 hours does not constitute the need for an emergency room visit. Except in very small circumstances where maybe it's a literally a newborn baby. Again even in situations like that contacting your insurance and your nurse advice line could a lot of times avoid being exposed to all the other yuck that you're sitting there for hours just festering in, when you didn't need to be there at all. Apart from that if your doctor is not open you can go to the urgent care. The urgent care can treat everything that your own primary medical doctor can do apart from giving most immunizations, performing physicals. But if you have a fracture, if you need sutures, stitches, if you think there's something wrong with your tummy, if you have a fever. There are so many more urgent carers to access that do not constitute this incredible bill that comes on the backside of going to the emergency room because you have a booboo. That's not how the system works. And the problem is that people are not educated on the process of that and getting back to the discussion on Narcan. There's no line between what your profession consists of. Sure, many professions nowadays have some level of medical training. Even if you have a reception job working at a medical institution most people have CPR or first aid certification is a requirement. But being a first responder how far do you have to go in that training as a medical professional. When you're already going so far based on all of the new standards that are being imposed as the profession evolves and I think that it gets really confusing and this starts to confuse you in your own profession. What am I? Am I a police officer? Am I part firefighter? Am I an EMT? 

Clint: Am I a psychiatrist? 

Ashlie: The list goes on and on and we see that post on social media all the time like this is not what I signed up for. Well I think that's just a part of the game. You don't know what you signed up for when you have a profession that's constantly evolving. You agreed to that when you signed on, because you've paid witness to this evolution until you decided to become a first responder and I think as time goes on it's important to just take ownership of your profession and to just be open to the fact that you're going to be asked to do things like this that you might not be comfortable with. The best thing in my opinion that you can do is to just study the guidelines. Do what's asked of you and if you're in doubt ask somebody around you in that situation what their thoughts are maybe before administering that dose for example. There will be other ways to better incorporate your methodologies and what your plan of action is in that sort of situation as you get more practice with it. And I love the fact that we're bringing more awareness to the substance abuse problem in our country, especially now you know under the presidency of our current president a lot has changed in the realm of diagnosing treating and educating and then prevention. But as time goes on as you listen, I would encourage you to just be open to these changes instead of showcasing defiance or indicating that this isn't my responsibility. Question ways that you could make it a part of your responsibility. What are the ways you can make it easier on yourself? How can you learn something in a way that you can then teach to somebody else to lessen the stress. It's already such a stressful profession.  When you're able to do that and you're able to embrace the fact that change will come. Then it really allows you to enjoy your Tactical Living.



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