Alexandria, VA – Alexandria Police Lt. Mike Kochis was surprised how fast Narcan works. In September, the 16-year APD veteran saved the life of a man suffering from an opioid overdose by injecting him with naloxone nasal spray. Kochis was on patrol when he got the call. The man was unconscious on the side of the road just off the Eisenhower Connector exit off Interstate 495, and was receiving CPR from one of his two female companions. Kochis was there within minutes.
“I checked for the guy’s pulse, and there was no pulse, he wasn’t breathing,” Kochis said. “Another officer arrived at around the same time and we rolled him on his side and tried a sternum rub, but when that didn’t work I hit him with the one dose of Narcan. I got no response, then I hit him with another dose and then a few seconds later he gasped and started coughing. A few minutes later the medics arrived and took care of him.”
Kochis, who has commanded the APD night shift for the last six months, was previously the commander of the APD narcotics bureau for four years. He said that a search of the car did not yield any drugs.
“I was surprised how fast it worked. He was back and awake,” Kochis said, and commended the first responders who arrived at the scene. “This happens a lot. On a night shift we have a lot of young and new officers, and they’re extremely motivated and have a great attitude about coming to work. On any call you get there it’s business, and these kids work their butts off and their the ultimate professionals when they’re at work and it’s good to see.”
In 2017, there were 1,241 reported opioid-related deaths in Virginia, nine deaths in Alexandria, and 50 non-fatal overdoses. Earlier this year, all Alexandria Police Officers attended a two-hour training session on opioids and how to administer Narcan. All patrol officers were then issued the nasal spray.
“The public should know that the whole initiative using Narcan came from the current Opioid Work Group,” Kochis said. “It was a lot of people were involved with that initiative in getting Narcan on the street to the officers, which was a significant undertaking. They’re doing a lot of good work on this overdose stuff.”
The police are members of the city’s Opioid Work Group, which successfully got Narcon distributed to Alexandria’s finest.
“APD recognized the need to have this lifesaving tool as the number of overdose cases our officers responded to was increasing,” said Alexandria Police Chief Mike Brown. “All of our patrol personnel have been trained in the administration of NARCAN and we will use it as needed to save lives. This recent case illustrates how important this tool is for us and our community.”
Interested in Narcan training? You can learn how to spot and reverse an opioid overdose every second Tuesday of the month from 10 to 11 a.m. at 2355 Mill Road. Participants are given a free Narcan kit after the class. You can also get a free Narcan kit at the Alexandria Health Department’s main office at 4480 King Street.
The city is also hosting “A Community Conversation: Strategic Plan to Eliminate Opioid Misuse and Its Harmful Effects in Alexandria” on Nov. 18 at T.C. Williams High School from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.