In troubled times in the metropolis, the unexpected rise up and battle the evils that enslave civilizations. Â Today, such a tale is playing out on the streets of Hartford. Â Behold…Narcan Man!
Few of us were paying attention when it started to happen. Â We get called for a overdose at the bus stop, possibly not breathing. Â We arrive in minutes. Â There he is! Â A man sits on a bench, leaning forward, head down. Â We approach. Â I can see his chest is moving. Â Maybe four, six times a minute. Â I give him a shake. Â He responds slowly. Â His eyes are pinpoint. Â I recognize him as a regular on Park Street. His face is very pale. Â I see some beads of sweat on his forehead.
Hey are you all right?
â€œYeah, yeah, Iâ€™m fine,â€ he says.
I give him another shake.
He is breathing better now.
â€œHow much did you do?â€ I ask.
â€œI didnâ€™t do anything. Â Iâ€™m good. Â Iâ€™m good.â€ Â He stands and looks around the street. Â â€œIâ€™m just. Â Iâ€™m just tired, thatâ€™s all.â€
â€œYou know what day it is?â€
â€œMonday,â€ he says.
If this was 2014 instead of 2017, I would have had him papered on the spot. Â Such is the world we live in.
We let him walk off. Â He crosses the street, and then pukes in the bushes. Â I walk back over to him, and ask him again if he is alright. Â He says he is good, and waves me off. Â He continues off down a side street.
â€œWhat was up with him?â€ my partner asks.
â€œI donâ€™t know. Â It was like I gave him narcan, but I didnâ€™t.â€
â€œMaybe he had an anticipatory reaction to the sirens.
The next week, we get called to Broad and Grand for the overdose. Â This is prime OD land. Â We arrive to find the cops looking around. Â A man stands against the building and looks a little wobbly. Â But neither he nor anyone else standing around has anything to say. Â The call originated from the bodega. Â The cops go inside and ask. Â The caller comes out and points to the dumpster. Â He was right there.
No one is there.
The cops think it might be the wobbly guy, but he denies it, as he turns and wobbles off.
A mystery, but not uncommon of late. Â An OD. Â Clear, no one found.
I give a talk on the opioid crisis at a paramedic refresher. Â One of the medics says, â€œAnyone else showing up on calls to find the patient already narcaned?â€
Yeah, Â Yeah. Â There is a chorus in response. Â Me, too. Â Yeah, happened to me yesterday. Â Yeah, I saw a guy running off just as we got there, and our patient comes around before I can even put the atomizer on.Â
I am on an opioid overdose prevention working group, and at our meetings, the harm reduction programs occasionally report on the number of overdoses their clients have performed. Â Â I assumed it was within the context of using with their buddies. Could it be that one man has taken it upon himself to patrol the streets. Â He spots an OD, a quick squirt or two up the victimâ€™s nose and he disappears, as the user is left to wake up like Daffy Duck, Who? What? Â Where? Why!
Does he work alone? Â Or is an amalgamation of many? Â Is he unique to Hartford or does he live in every city beset by the opioid crisis?
How many lives has he saved? Â How many ODs has he reversed? Â How many highs has he stolen? Â I wonder if he follows a protocol? Only use in cases of hypoventilation ? Â Or is he just squirting every Tom, Dick and Mary on the nod?
Will he be hailed as a hero? Â Will he get the shit beat out of him? Â Urban legend or real life Super Hero? Â I guess we have to wait for the movie to come out.