SCRANTON -- Firefighters in Scranton are now equipped to help people who have overdosed on heroin. The lifesaving drug called Narcan will be on all city fire trucks. This added responsibility speaks to the growing heroin epidemic in our area.
Scranton firefighters are being asked to do more. They are being trained to use something that doesn't fight fires but another, newer threat in the city.
Soon every firefighter in Scranton will know how to use Naloxone, a nasal spray better known as Narcan. It can revive someone overdosing on heroin.
"The more you have out there, and the more people you have trained to, you know, to use it and administer it, the better," said Scranton firefighter Matthew McDonald.
McDonald and his fellow firefighters have seen the heroin epidemic firsthand. The fire chief says the department was called to overdoses twice just last week.
Scranton is the first fire department to receive Narcan kits. Pennsylvania Ambulance helped distribute and train police departments in Lackawanna County. Since the program started in 2015, police officers saved more than 40 people from overdoses.
"Hopefully, we don't see those numbers, but if we are needed, we have it," said McDonald.
Pennsylvania Ambulance donated nine Narcan kits to the Scranton Fire Department. One will be stored inside each truck in the department.
"At first, we were going to have one kit with Rescue One because they are dispatched on everything, and then when D.A. Scanlon said put them on all the apparatus, I thought that's awesome," said Scranton Fire Chief Pat DeSarno. "All our guys are trained, again while we're not straight up EMS, we do come upon scenes where we are first on scene. This stuff could absolutely be administered and save some lives."
Scranton is unique in that it does not have a regional EMS service that would also carry Narcan.
Still, Lackawanna County District Attorney Shane Scanlon says to expect more fire departments to start carrying Narcan.
"I think it speaks to the crisis that we find ourselves in," said Scanlon. "I think it speaks to the willingness of heroes to really go above and beyond in any way, to truly impact a life, save a life."